Durban - The KwaZulu-Natal legislature, which is controlled by the ANC, is locked in a bitter war of words with the IFP controlled Zululand district municipality over a mooted "oversight visit" which the latter suspects have ulterior political motives.
On 17January 2022, the chairperson of the portfolio committee on cooperative governance and traditional affairs (Cogta) D.T. Memela, an ANC MPL (member of the provincial legislature), wrote to the district mayor, Thulasizwe Buthelezi, an IFP deployee, accusing him of trying to frustrate their "oversight visit".
In the letter obtained by IOL, Memela said they had written to Buthelezi three times since 22 December last year requesting him to furnish them with dates for the visit and all that have yielded no responses.
"You would agree that these above-mentioned programmes are critical in meeting the very basic needs of our people. It is, therefore, disappointing to note that the intended oversight visit on such pressing issues is not given the urgency and importance that it deserves, and you have not seen it fit to supply us with a date for such a visit.
NEWS: The KZN legislature which is controlled by the ANC is locked in a bitter war of words with the IFP controlled Zululand district municipality over a mooted "oversight visit" which the latter suspects have ulterior political motives ahead of by-elections in Nongoma. @IOL— Sihle Mavuso (@ZANewsFlash) January 20, 2022
"We, therefore, call upon you to urgently supply us with suitable date/s no later than 31 January 2022 so that we can exercise our constitutional oversight responsibilities as a committee in respect of the implementation of these programmes. Should we not hear from you in this regard, we will be left with no other option but to conclude that you are attempting to delay, defeat or avoid the work of this committee,“ reads Memela's letter.
Firing back two days later (19 January 2022), Buthelezi told Memela that the municipality is not a sub-committee of the legislature, and the portfolio committee cannot "impose its own programme on us."
Buthelezi added that they operate as a separate sphere of government that is guided by the Intergovernmental Relations Framework Act - Act 13 of 2005.
"While we appreciate that your committee should play its oversight role as envisaged by legislation, we take exception to the tone and language of your letter referred to above. Our municipality has no knowledge or connection to the 'KZN Accelerated Water Programme', nor do we know what is meant by the 'Rehabilitation of CSCS Programme'.
"So while you state that you are 'disappointed' that we do not treat your committee's proposed visit with the urgency it deserves, our own disappointment is compounded by the fact that we have no association with the purported programmes over which you wish to exercise oversight."
Buthelezi further told Memela that in future, it should be the office of the speaker, Nontombeko Boyce, not the portfolio committee.
"In future, we request that all communication to our municipality regarding the KZN Legislature's activities be received from the Office of the Speaker and not from your committee. In this regard, we shall no longer be entertaining any further discussion regarding your proposed visit to the Zululand District Municipality," Buthelezi's office wrote to Memela.
IOL has learnt from sources within the IFP in the Zululand region that the region why Buthelezi and the district municipality are not keen on entertaining Memela's committee was because they believe it wants to use the visit to campaign for the ANC in Nongoma (which is facing a revolt after woes) ahead of two crucial by-elections in Nongoma.
But the spokesperson of the legislature, Wesley Canham, dismissed the allegations as far fetched, saying the committee is visiting all district municipalities to conduct oversight on the provision of water to communities.
"The visits are a follow up to the KZN Water Master Plan, which the Cogta Portfolio Committee held with the Department and all District Municipalities in June last year. The committee wants to have first-hand knowledge of the provision of water by District Municipalities who are water service providers in terms of the law. The Cogta Department is providing District Municipalities with support and funding to enable municipalities to fulfil their obligations in terms of water delivery to communities. Therefore, the allegations that are being made by the IFP in Zululand, that these oversight visits border on political campaigning ahead of the by-elections in Zululand, are devoid of truth and substance," he said.
The political relationship between IFP led municipalities and the provincial government which is controlled by the ANC has been at all times low following last year's local government elections. The municipalities believe that the ANC is using government structures to weaken them under the guise of playing an oversight role.