Mayor-elect Chris Pappas being sworn in at the Howick Magistrate Court on Friday. The inaugural meeting, scheduled to sit last Friday to elect leaders, collapsed amid irregularities. The DA says delaying tactics are being deployed so that the party misses the deadline to form a government. Picture: Supplied
Mayor-elect Chris Pappas being sworn in at the Howick Magistrate Court on Friday. The inaugural meeting, scheduled to sit last Friday to elect leaders, collapsed amid irregularities. The DA says delaying tactics are being deployed so that the party misses the deadline to form a government. Picture: Supplied

DA says ‘delaying tactics’ being used in uMngeni Municipality in a bid to force an election rerun

By Thami Magubane Time of article published Nov 16, 2021

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DURBAN - THE DA on Monday described the current situation at uMngeni Local Municipality as delaying tactics aimed at preventing the party from forming a government and forcing the municipality into an election rerun.

The party warned that it was prepared to take the fight over the control of the municipality all the way to the Constitutional Court, adding that it will spare no expense in the fight to retain its right as the duly elected leader of the municipality.

On Monday, the party was meeting with its lawyers, preparing for its fight at the Pietermaritzburg High Court. It wants to lodge court papers to have the council meeting that was abandoned last week to be reconvened.

The papers prepared on Monday night could be lodged as early as Wednesday unless a new council meeting was convened.

The party, which seized the Midlands municipality from the ANC in the recent local government elections, suspects that there were efforts to stymie its ascendancy in the municipality. uMngeni is its first municipality in KwaZulu-Natal.

The inaugural meeting, scheduled to sit last Friday to elect leaders, collapsed amid irregularities. The municipal manager, Thembeka Cibane, who is currently on suspension, tried to preside over the meeting claiming that her suspension had expired. The DA and EFF councillors objected to her presence there and when she did not budge, the meeting collapsed.

Cibane was suspended a few months ago following a forensic investigation by the Special Investigating Unit ( SIU) that made damning findings against the municipality.

DA provincial chairperson Dean Macpherson said they viewed the current situation as delaying tactics for the clock to run out for the party to form a government, thereby forcing the municipality into a rerun.

“This is a delaying tactic… They’re trying to drag this matter past the deadline in order for the MEC to intervene and place the municipality under administration; that is something we will not allow to happen.

“We are preparing court papers to file at the Pietermaritzburg High Court. The party will spare no expense in this and we are prepared to fight; we will take the fight all the way to the Constitutional Court,” Macpherson said.

The party blamed acting municipal manager Sandile Buthelezi for some of the chaos, saying he was attempting to shirk his responsibilities. “We understand he has written to the Department of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs to say that the MEC must appoint a presiding officer; it’s confusing because he’s the one who called the first meeting,” said Macpherson .

“The acting municipal manager is playing games with us. We are very clear in that if the meeting is not rescheduled, we are taking the matter to court or we will seek personal cost orders against all of those who are involved,” said Macpherson. He said the attempts to delay the inauguration of political office bearers was undermining the will of the people and the democratic processes. Attempts to speak to Buthelezi were again unsuccessful yesterday.

Cogta spokesperson Senzo Mzila said MEC Sipho Hlomuka and his department were ready to assist municipalities to form their councils. He said this process was usually driven by the municipal managers and in the event they were not available it could be led by an acting municipal manager. He said if an acting municipal manager was not available then the MEC could delegate the function.

He said the department was dealing with municipalities experiencing challenges. Mzila added the office of the MEC was not aware of correspondence from uMngeni Municipality.

THE MERCURY

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