Tiff over new eThekwini Municipality deputy mayor collapses meeting
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Durban: The ANC in eThekwini Municipality has been accused of disrespecting residents of the city after the behaviour of its councillors led to the collapse of a full council meeting yesterday.
The party’s councillors held a caucus meeting that delayed the start of a full council meeting for more than an hour, a move that was in violation of council rules of order. The meeting collapsed after it failed to meet a quorum because ANC councillors were still in caucus.
The burning issue seemed to be the appointment of the new deputy mayor. The council was set to vote on the position yesterday. The position has been vacant for the past five months following the resignation of Belinda Scott.
ANC councillor Diana Hoorzuk was considered a front runner for the position after she was brought in from outside and parachuted to the executive committee. At this week’s executive committee, Hoorzuk was appointed the chairperson of the Finance and Emergency Services Committee. Traditionally, the deputy mayor of the municipality leads those committees.
An ANC councillor who was part of the caucus meeting said there was concerned that some councillors would not vote for Hoorzuk.
“There were two problems during that meeting, the first one is that many councillors did not come to the meeting, I do not know what the reason was. But there were 100 ANC councillors there, so we could have had the majority.
“The second problem was that the leaders of the caucus had heard a rumour that some councillors were unhappy with the choice for the deputy mayor and had their own candidate, and would therefore have spoiled the ballot which would have put the ANC in a compromising position,” said the councillor.
Opposition parties said the ANC was being disrespectful for failing to ensure that council business continued. They also questioned the decision of bringing an outsider to take up the position of deputy mayor, saying this was telling residents that the councillors had no capacity.
IFP councillor Mdu Nkosi said the meeting could not take place after it had been delayed for more than 30 minutes. Nkosi said what transpired at today's meeting was another sign that the ANC did not take the people of eThekwini seriously. “We have always said that it does not make sense for them to bring someone from outside to be deputy mayor. The fact that the person used to be a councillor does not matter, it will take the person a year to learn the importance of the deputy mayor’s office.
“In bringing someone from outside, that tells these councillors that their party believes they have no capacity. It tells the voters that the councillors the party gives them have no capacity,” he said.
DA councillor Nicole Graham said It was now clear that Hoorzuk was not a universal choice within the ANC.
“At 11am today (Thursday) and after an hour had passed, DA chief whip Thabani Mthethwa forced Speaker Weziwe Thusi’s hand into calling off the meeting in terms of the rules of order. The rules are clear that a meeting is no longer valid if it does not quorate within a specific time. The ANC were still in caucus and had not arrived in the council chamber.
“This all indicates that the ANC is a deeply fractured and divided organisation that focuses more on their internal strife than the progress of this city. After stoking the flames of unrest just two weeks ago, the least the ANC could do is show up to work and get on with business,” said Graham.
ANC chief whip said the meeting was cancelled because it had not been able to seat within the specified time-frame, saying even other parties were still missing members.
“We have been having virtual meetings where people could attend even if they are sick, this was a physical meeting, I would not want to comment on why people were missing before I have done the research.”
He said he was not aware of the claims that there was a concern that some councillors might spoil their ballots. The municipality said the meeting would be reconvened within 7 days.