Mtubatuba – The IFP-led Mtubatuba Local Municipality in northern KwaZulu-Natal has been temporarily closed, citing safety concerns for its staff following Wednesday’s skirmishes.
The municipality asked its staff to stay at home until Monday.
According to an internal memo sent to staff by the municipal manager Thami Xulu on Wednesday, just before they knocked off, the security situation was untenable for staff to be on the municipal premises.
PHOTOS: The situation at Mtubatuba local municipality right now. There is a stand-off between ANC and IFP councillors following ruling of the Pietermaritzburg High Court. Due to security concerns, the staff of the municipality has been ordered to stay home until Monday. @IOL pic.twitter.com/N7amDInPql— Sihle Mavuso (@ZANewsFlash) June 15, 2023
The verbal showdown also involved its administrator Dr Siya Ntuli, who’s deployment by the KwaZulu-Natal department of cooperative governance and traditional affairs (Cogta) to the municipality, the IFP is challenging in court.
The demand by the ANC councillors to be allowed to take over the municipality follows a Pietermaritzburg High Court ruling on Tuesday in favour of the ANC and KZN cogta MEC Bongi Sithole-Moloi by setting aside KZN Acting Judge President Isaac Madondo’s order by consent of April 11, 2022.
It was submitted to the judge in his chambers via the court’s registrar. The rescission was granted on the basis that the registrar had been duped into believing that all the parties had consented to the order to be certified by the court, when in fact the ANC and its councillors never consented.
Using the now set aside order, the IFP then recalled five ANC councillors that had been sent to the uMkhanyakude District Municipality, the IFP thus becoming the majority party at district-level.
The ANC councillors argued that the ruling gave them control of the municipality, hence they occupied the premises and demanded to be given keys to the offices of the speaker, the mayor and deputy mayor.
Municipal manager Xulu said in the staff memo: “Today (June 14, 2023), the Inkosi Mtubatuba Municipality experienced a very scary situation where the so-called ministerial representative of the administrator, Dr SR Ntuli, brought in some heavily armed men.
“He wanted to gain entry to the municipal buildings, whereas he is not allowed to as his matter is sitting before the high court in Pietermaritzburg in (sic) February, 2014.
“His men forced entry into the municipal campus by forcefully (removing) the fence in full view of everyone, including the employees.
“This situation caused fear and trauma among the employees.
“This disturbed the functioning of the municipality because the cocking of the very big guns and shouting and shoving of the people was at play.
“Everybody’s life was at risk and people feared for their lives.
“For this reason the municipal offices will be closed until Monday June 19, 2023.
“This is done to ensure that every community member, councillors and community members are safe.”
IOL learnt that on Thursday, the municipal offices were protected by armed police officers who arrived in a number of vans and Nyala armoured vehicles used for crowd control during protests and riots.
Provincial Cogta staff members were seen loitering around, trying to gain entry and later went to meet at a local police station.
Cogta did not comment when asked whether the municipality had sought permission to temporarily shut down its offices and suspend operations.
So was Ntuli, when asked about the allegations levelled against him.