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‘Work together for the province’, says Zikalala who urged parties to unite to make service delivery a priority

Sihle Zikalala, Premier of Kwazulu Natal. File Picture: Theo Jeptha/African News Agency(ANA)

Sihle Zikalala, Premier of Kwazulu Natal. File Picture: Theo Jeptha/African News Agency(ANA)

Published Nov 9, 2021

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DURBAN - AS THE clock ticks for political parties in KwaZulu-Natal to negotiate coalition deals to jointly run municipalities, Premier Sihle Zikalala has urged political parties in hung municipalities to put aside political theatrics and form coalitions that will make communities and service delivery a priority.

Twenty-one municipalities across the province, including the eThekwini Municipality, require co-governance from different political parties.

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Zikalala, with other members of his Cabinet, held a media briefing yesterday to give an update on the outcomes of the elections and other matters.

The Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) was set to publish the 2021 local government results in the Government Gazette yesterday, starting the process of constituting councils. Local councils must be constituted within 14 working days.

District municipalities, on the other hand, are given more time as they are required to convene 14 working days after the last local municipality in that district constitutes itself.

This means that district municipalities will be constituted at different intervals, however the last date for such a constitution is December 7, 2021. The district elections will be facilitated by the IEC. Municipal managers and their staff were trained by the Department of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) on how to apply the procedures,the premier said.

Zikalala said the people had spoken and declared that there should be no outright winner.

“This is a clear message that they want political parties to work together, through the democratic process of co-governing KwaZulu-Natal.”

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Asked where they expected challenges in forming coalitions, Zikalala said: “Given the nature and the problems we have seen with coalitions, you will expect challenges where all the parties are around 35%. You will have a number of parties that must be involved in setting up one municipality.

“It therefore means that you will not have one party negotiating with another party, it means you will have a few parties having to engage and agree on how to constitute a municipality. You are now dealing with self-interest of parties, the politics of parties, so we will expect more challenges from those municipalities where parties got small percentages.”

He said that while the provincial government planned to do its best to facilitate a smooth transition, they were not underestimating the challenges that may arise in hung municipalities.

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“We trust that parties will continue persuading each other, and avoid political theatrics that may end up paralysing municipalities and hampering the delivery of services. No one should drop the baton, for it is the very lives of our people which will be at stake if we, as elected representatives, waste time instead of finalising this process within the set time.”

Zikalala said his government was on high alert following social media posts that were threatening mass protests aimed at disrupting inaugurations in some councils. He said they were following up on each of those threats as the provincial government could not be caught unaware, as it was in July.

Cogta MEC Sipho Hlomuka said they had enough staff and had put together a plan to deal with all municipalities in the province, including the hung ones.

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Cogta warned that if municipalities failed to constitute councils within the stipulated time frame, they would be in breach of the Structures Act, which was a serious offence and could trigger an intervention by the provincial executive.

Meanwhile, it emerged yesterday that the ANC has turned to its former coalition partner, the NFP, and Abantu Batho Congress (ABC) in KZN.

The ANC’s sudden turn to the two follows an outright rejection by the IFP and the DA, which have made it clear that they will not work with them in any of the 21 hung local municipalities which include eThekwini and Msunduzi (Pietermaritzburg) municipalities.

On Sunday, the secretary-general of the NFP, Canaan Mdletshe, refused to divulge whom they were talking to regarding coalitions, only confirming that they were engaged in negotiations.

The party is hoping to get a coalition partner that can help it to rule its former stomping ground the eDumbe Municipality in KZN’s far north.

The party got majority seats in the municipality that it ran with the help of the ANC as a coalition partner when it was formed in 2011.

A leader of the ANC in eDumbe said yesterday that the NFP leadership was locked in a meeting with the ANC in Durban discussing coalition agreements. “We don’t know what the final outcome will be,” the leader said.

The ANC has also turned to its former benefactor and prominent member, Philani Mavundla, the former mayor of Umvoti (Greytown) who is now the president of ABC.

Mavundla confirmed that his party was in talks, and that it was not only speaking to the ANC, but also to the IFP.

“We have embarked on negotiations with all other parties where we are needed, however we have not finalised any deal with anyone and we are hoping to have this finalised at the latest by Wednesday. We are talking to both the ANC and the IFP,” Mavundla said.

THE MERCURY

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