Durban - The eThekwini Municipality still have fully functional executive council (Exco) members despite the ANC in KwaZulu-Natal having told them to resign, the city's acting mayor Fawzia Peer said.
Peer was reacting to opposition parties who have called on her to vacate her acting mayor position as that position can only be held by a member of the executive council.
Peer, mayor Zandile Gumede, ex-speaker William Mapena and former chief whip Neli Nyanisa were instructed by the ANC to resign from their positions after the ruling party found that they had poorly performed their council duties.
“Fawzia resigned last week Monday like all Exco members. To be a mayor or deputy you must be an Exco member. So in eThekwini there is no one acting as mayor, there is nothing, there is a vacuum. If there were to be a disaster we will be in serious trouble,” said KwaZulu-Natal DA leader Zwakele Mncwango.
However, Peer said all Exco members had not resigned, but the so-called resignation letters were intended to inform the ANC that they would resign in the next sitting of the full council next week.
“We are not removed as Exco members as yet because we have to go to council, which will then endorse all these removals,” she said.
She said the resignation letters were only submitted to the ANC “as surety that we will remove ourselves”. She said the letters to the ANC were not official.
“If the party says ‘we have to remove you’, we had to say ‘we abide by your rules, we will remove ourselves when the time comes for the council to remove us’.
“If the council meeting takes place on Wednesday the council will then remove us as mayor, deputy mayor and all Exco members will also be removed.
“Until we convene this meeting we are still Exco members,” said Peer.
Mncwango had raised concerns that city manager Sipho Nzuza cannot “by law” perform certain duties if there is no political leadership.
“The council is in trouble because the city manager does not have powers to take action in cases of emergencies as the law says the city manager in the absence of the council should in consultation with the mayor take decisions in case of emergencies,” said Mncwango.
Municipality spokesperson Msawakhe Mayisela had on Friday assured city residents that the city was operating normally despite political challenges.
He said Peer remained the acting mayor.
“We have got acting mayor, we have got city manager (Sipho Nzuza) who is leading the administration and we have officials who fully understand the municipality’s constitutional mandate of providing basic services to residents,” said Mayisela.
However, IFP councillor Mdu Nkosi, who is also an Exco member, concurred with Mncwango.
“This is out of order. I even phoned Msawakhe Mayisela asking him how can a non-Exco member be an acting mayor. You can only take an Exco member to act (as mayor),” said Nkosi.
Nkosi said since Gumede had withdrawn her resignation as the mayor she can handle council matters.
“I told Msawakhe that he cannot say the council was running normally. They are supposed to take anyone among us (opposition Exco members) who have not resigned to act,” he said.
Other ANC councillors who are believed to have been told to resign from Exco are Barbara Fottein, Sipho Kaunda, Mondli Mthembu, Zamazulu Ruth Sokhabase. Opposition councillors in Exco are DA’s Nicole Graham, Thabani Mthethwa, and IFP’s Nkosi.