Fight over Zululand district municipality NFP councillor to be heard in Pietermaritzburg High Court on Monday

Published Mar 25, 2023


Durban - The ANC, supported by NFP and EFF councillors, has filed an urgent application with the Pietermaritzburg High Court where it wants a court order compelling the Zululand district municipality to remove councillor Bethuel Nxumalo from its roll and replace him with Sibusiso Nkosi.

In the court papers, the first applicant in the matter is Khayelihle Khumalo, a councillor of the ANC district municipality and he is supported by other nine councillors from the ruling party which includes Mxolisi Zulu and Bawinile Nhlabathi, the former mayor of uPhongolo local municipality.

The other applicants include NFP councillors in the district municipality like Siphamandla Ntombela (a confidant of the late Zanele KaMagwaza Msibi), Jeremiah Mavundla, the former mayor of Nongoma and Israel Hadebe.

Also entering the fray was Thulani Ndlovu, the only councillor of the EFF in the district municipality which incorporates the towns of Vryheid (Abaqulusi), Dumbe, Pongola, Nongoma and it is anchored in Ulundi in northern KwaZulu-Natal.

Among the respondents are the speaker of the Zululand district municipality, the municipal manager, councillor Nxumalo, the IEC and the MEC for KwaZulu-Natal Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta), Bongi Sithole-Moloi.

If they win, Nxumalo who is persistently defying his party (the NFP - which is a coalition partner of the ANC) by voting with the IFP, will be replaced by Nkosi.

The ANC, NFP and the EFF hope that the reign of Mayor Thulasizwe Buthelezi and other IFP political office bearers will then be cut short through a vote of no confidence.

The ANC-NFP-EFF alliance, combined, has 19 seats, while the IFP, assisted by the DA, has 18 seats.

However, with the help of Nxumalo, the IFP ends up with 19 seats and the ANC-NFP-EFF alliance ended up with 18 seats.

In his affidavit, Khumalo said the case is about the contravention of the Constitution (sections governing municipalities) where the speaker and the municipality are acting in a cohort.

He argued the alleged illegal acts of the two have resulted in Nxumalo being allowed to attend council meetings when he is not a councillor.

Furthermore, he argued that the speaker, in his quest to keep his party, the IFP in power, has brought in Nxumalo to sit as a councillor when he is not in the gazetted list the IEC has published.

He said the need to urgently correct this and remove Nxumalo since the adjusted budget should be passed, and if he is present, he could use his vote to sway the vote for the budget.

Khumalo then attached supporting evidence to show how Cogta, the NFP, the courts and many other structures dealt with the matter and pointed out that Nxumalo is not a legitimate councillor.

In his affidavit, Ndlovu from the EFF said he once wrote to the speaker asking about Nxumalo and his eligibility to sit in council meetings and that it fell on deaf ears and caused confusion.

He asked the court to urgently rule on the matter.

In the opening paragraph of his responding papers, Nxumalo pointed out that the IFP and the DA should have also been joined in the case since they have an interest in the proceedings.

Nxumalo insisted that he was duly elected a councillor representing the NFP and he will remain as such until a court has removed him or his party has done so.

Elsewhere in his papers, Nxumalo narrates how factional battles within the NFP led to the current challenges and how councillors' lists to the IEC were fraudulently manipulated, with some leaders of the party placing themselves at the top in order to become councillors by hook or crook.

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