The ANC in KwaZulu-Natal has suspended seven councillors from the Umzumbe Local Municipality on the South Coast who abstained from a vote of no confidence that led to the removal of an ANC mayor last week.
The abstention meant that the ANC’s mayor Bongani Nyuswa was removed from his position and replaced with IFP councillor Mlungisi Ndlovu.
The ANC has 21 seats in the council, while the IFP has 14. Opposition parties such as the EFF, Apemo and ATM have one seat each.
At least 25 of the 39 council members debated a motion of no-confidence against Nyuswa.
ANC provincial secretary Bheki Mtolo said the party had suspended the membership of seven councillors who participated in “a circus purporting to be a special council meeting held last Friday”.
The councillors were identified as Thulo Mkhugo, from ward 1; Sibonakaliso Hadebe from ward 2; Bheki Ngema from ward 3; Mduduzi Msomi from ward 4; Mhlengi Luthuli from ward 16; Thuthukani Jeza from ward 19 and Smangele Dlamini from ward 20.
Mtolo said the suspended councillors were not allowed to convene or attend any meetings of the ANC; are prohibited from attending Umzumbe council meetings as ANC public representatives and cannot participate in the council meetings as ANC representatives.
“Any failure to adhere to the conditions of their suspension will lead to their immediate expulsion from the ANC,” Mtolo said.
ANC members who swear allegiance to the party are expected to subordinate their interests to its strategic objectives, he said.
“It is public knowledge that of their own accord, the seven councillors voted with the Inkatha Freedom Party.” Mtolo blamed former speaker Sbonelo Maphumulo – who was dismissed as speaker after a disciplinary process in December – of being behind the council drama.
“It should be recalled that ANC structures had marched to the provincial office in protest against his conduct.
“After his expulsion from the ANC we informed the Independent Electoral Commission that, having ceased to be a member of the ANC, he could no longer occupy the seat of the ANC in Umzumbe Local Municipality and therefore a vacancy was declared.
“Therefore his attempts to usurp powers and the authority of the council speaker clandestinely have failed dismally.”
Maphumulo denied that he was behind the plot to dislodge the ANC and is appealing against his dismissal.
The provincial ANC confirmed that Maphumulo was still the speaker as he had lodged an appeal against his dismissal.
IFP provincial chairperson Thami Ntuli on Monday said that the party commended Maphumulo “for his courage in standing against corruption and for the rights and interests of the people of uMzumbe, even while facing backlash from his own party”.
“The IFP remains steadfast in its commitment to ethical leadership and good governance.
“We stand in support of mayor Ndlovu and the entire leadership team as they embark on the important task of rebuilding and revitalising Umzumbe Municipality for the benefit of all its residents,” Ntuli said in a statement.
The IFP was calling on the ANC to “uphold the values of integrity and accountability” and to “address the concerns raised regarding corruption and mismanagement in uMzumbe”, he said.
“It is imperative that public representatives prioritise the needs of the people above all else and work collaboratively towards a better future for our municipalities.”
Approached for comment, Jeza said he had not received a letter but he had heard that his name was on a list of councillors who had been suspended.
“I will not take any steps until I receive a letter of suspension and if this is the case then I will appeal against the decision,” Jeza said.
Dlamini said she had received a letter of suspension from the party.
“I did not attend Friday’s meeting and I am working on an appeal which I will send to the provincial secretary.”
Radebe said he was surprised that his name was on the list and he would write to the provincial office to get clarity.
The other councillors could not be reached for comment by deadline on Monday.