Durban - The DA in eThekwini Municipality has accused City mayor Mxolisi Kaunda of gagging its members who sit in the executive committee after he refused to let councillors from the party comment on his mayoral remarks during an executive committee meeting last week.
Kaunda revealed in last week’s meeting that he had laid a complaint with the office of speaker Thabani Nyawose on the conduct of some councillors in a previous meeting.
The previous meeting was so acrimonious that the mayor accused the DA councillors of being disruptive and eventually ordered they be booted out of the virtual meeting if they continued to be disruptive.
The councillors then left the meeting.
During last Thursday’s Exco meeting Kaunda said he thought it best for the speaker to deal with the complaint first as he did not want to risk last week’s meeting turning sour again.
“In the last executive committee meeting we spent an hour discussing the mayor’s remarks, something that is unheard of,” said Kaunda, confirming that he had written to the speaker to raise his complaint about the acrimonious nature of that meeting.
“You will be called to by the speaker to explain and I will be called to explain. So I do not want us to engage (his mayoral remarks from last week’s meeting) until the speaker has addressed this issue.”
But DA councillor Yogis Govender said this was tantamount to gagging members of the exco.
“The mayor refused for any exco members to respond or seek clarity to his opening address. He cited having written to the speaker complaining of the conduct of the DA exco members in the last meeting and as a result until that matter is resolved, he will not entertain any right of response.
“The issue that arose in the last meeting was predominantly around the lack of translation and that was resolved as interpreters were identified as being present. For the mayor to gag us and unilaterally stop any engagement on his address has no basis. We are not privy to the contents of his letter to the speaker, whether it was to seek clarity, file a complaint or make any other recommendations. A letter is not an order or a recommendation which has powers to suspend meeting protocols.
“As the DA we are deprived of the opportunity to adequately represent our constituents when we are gagged like this.
“This conduct is in keeping with the ANC’s recent threats to gag opposition councillors. As the DA we will be writing to the speaker and other applicable structures and perhaps get a legal opinion on the mayor’s conduct,” she said.