Durban - The key Human Settlements and Infrastructure services committee (HSI) in eThekwini Municipality is facing a crisis with the chairperson of the committee accusing the City’s staff of undermining him.
Councillor Themba Mvubu of the EFF, who chairs the committee, made the accusation during a special executive committee (Exco) meeting last week when two reports that were meant to be approved by his committee were presented to Exco without Mvubu being briefed on them.
The committee plays an oversight role over close to 70% of the City’s budget, including key service delivery units.
The reports had been brought directly to Exco and were not presented at the HSI committee. Mvubu, as the chairperson, should at least have been briefed on their contents prior to them being tabled before Exco.
Mvubu was so angered by being undermined that he ended up abstaining from voting on the reports.
“I am the chairperson of this committee and I should be motivating all of you (Exco members) to support me on this item, but instead I will not be voting for it.
“While I know that this is an important item, I will be abstaining from it, for now, I will fold my hands,” said Mvubu, noting that it was the first
time he was being made aware of the item and that he had not been briefed on it by the committee’s staff.
He warned the staff to refrain from hiding information, saying whatever information they sought to hide will eventually come to light.
“Do not think that what we do not know today, we will not know tomorrow,” he said.
IFP councillor Mdu Nkosi said it was concerning that the chairperson of the committee was undermined by the staff in his own committee.
Mayor Mxolisi Kaunda said Exco going forward would no longer entertain any direct reports where the chairperson of the committee had not been briefed on the contents of those reports, saying such behaviour by the officials was unacceptable.
There were also clashes between Kaunda and DA councillor Andre Beetge during the meeting.
Kaunda, as the chair of the meeting, felt undermined by Beetge and eventually called for the DA councillor to be thrown out of the meeting.
“Councillor Beetge, if you don't want to be in this meeting, ship out,” fumed Kaunda.
At the end of the meeting Kaunda apologised to members of the public who were part of the meeting and opposition parties where he might have erred.
IFP councillor Nkosi stepped in and called for councillors to remain calm.
Beetge accused Kaunda of abusing his political position.
“Instead of using the chairmanship to best direct the meeting, Kaunda uses and allows his political masters to deliver political statements while abusing the same position to selectively subdue opposition debate.
“As of late, the mayor has increasingly been assuming the role of an executive mayor, as opposed to the fact that eThekwini and KZN, prescribe to a collective executive system based on proportional representation with the mayor merely acting as chairperson of a committee where members have equal stature and input on all matters relating to the running of the City.”