DURBAN - Politics of patronage, characterised by irrational instructions and malfeasance, played a role in the latest collapse of the Msunduzi Municipality.
This is according to former Msunduzi mayor Chris Ndlela after last week’s announcement that the troubled municipality had again been placed under administration.
The municipality has suffered a stunning reversal of fortunes, going from a clean audit and more than a R1billion in reserves in 2016, to flirting with bankruptcy this year.
Ndlela took over the political leadership of the council in 2012 when the municipality officially came out of its first tenure under administration under administrators Johan Mettler and Sibusiso Sithole.
Thereafter, Ndlela and former municipal manager Mxolisi Nkosi were credited with maintaining the municipality’s sound footing, leading to its first clean audit in more than 10 years in 2016. However, Nkosi was later allegedly forced out by the council.
“Politics, in particular the mandating structure, is another animal brought in at all the cities where we are,” Ndlela said.
“Naturally, I also experienced serious problems due to some of the political directives. I know that some politicians were very uncomfortable with my attitude because I refuse to take irrational and destructive directives.
“I strongly feel that the situation of Msunduzi today is as a result of politics of patronage and visionary-challenged leadership,” he said.
Ndlela was scathing about the current state of the city.
“With due respect to the people of Msunduzi Local Municipality, the functionality of both community and infrastructure services is pathetic, to say the least.
“To a certain degree, financial services is, of late, a cause for concern. These two units are the main culprits that invite the wrath of residents, investors and visitors to the city.
“I think the leadership and management is not fully committed to serving the people. Allegations of malfeasance and leadership squabbles also contributed a huge chunk to this disservice to the voters of Msunduzi.
“Going forward, the leadership must deploy members who understand what the negative implications of poor performance of a municipality have on the party. Good performance in the term of office leads to good performance in the next elections.”
However political analyst Thabani Khumalo said the decision to place the municipality under administration could serve the ANC well.
“Previously the party has been arrogant and protective of anything with the name ANC in it. That is changing with the new dawn - we are seeing senior leaders being held accountable.
“That municipality has been in trouble for a while and I believe the political factions in the region contributed to its downfall. With MEC Nomusa Dube-Ncube taking such a decision, as painful as it might be, it restores the ANC in the face of the public and the party is seen as responding to the needs of the people on the ground,” he said.