Nongoma Speaker tried to block meeting which ousted IFP mayor

MEC Bongi Sithole-Moloi wants all parties to cooperate. Picture: Supplied

MEC Bongi Sithole-Moloi wants all parties to cooperate. Picture: Supplied

Published Jun 22, 2023


Durban - Two letters to KZN’s Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) MEC Bongi Sithole-Moloi show that the Nongoma Local Municipality Speaker Prince Bheki Zulu tried to stop Thursday’s meeting which ousted the IFP leadership on the basis that they had lodged an appeal.

The letters, which IOL has seen, were dated June 21.

One of them was directed at the MEC while another was directed at Madoda Khathide, the ministerial representative in the ongoing fight for power.

Zulu said councillors were not available to attend the meeting that was held on Thursday and he complained that his powers were being usurped.

The issue stems from last week’s court ruling that confirmed the dethroning of the IFP from the municipality and reinstated the ANC-NFP-EFF alliance in February this year.

“By what right do you usurp the functions of the Speaker?

“Whilst on this point, kindly indicate by what legal authority do you purport to convene a meeting of the Nongoma councillors, as proposed in your correspondence.

“As a senior government official, you must be aware that Local Government is a separate sphere of government, vested with both legislative and executive authority.”

Zulu said he was duly elected as Speaker and said the MEC should have followed protocol.

“The content of your draft agenda is noted. Kindly be advised that the Nongoma council has no need of the Cogta politically biased legal view and interpretation of litigation outcomes.

“We have our competent legal advisors to perform this function.

“Should you wish to pursue this matter, kindly follow protocol and the provisions of the Intergovernmental Relations Framework Act,” said Zulu, who accused KZN Cogta of intimidation tactics.

The meeting went ahead and the IFP-led coalition which included the NFP was dethroned.

That effectively moved Clifford Mshangane Ndabandaba of the NFP, back from being deputy mayor under the IFP, to the mayoral seat and Babongile Sithole from the ANC, as the Speaker.

The deputy mayor’s position is now vacant as Sabelo Nkosi who was from the EFF has since resigned.

To the MEC, Zulu said they had appealed the June 15 ruling that removed them and as such, she has no right to change their leadership.

“Any meeting, even if called, and convened, or presided over by the provincial sphere must be a meeting that complies with the standing rules and orders. These are not just rules, they are law - they are a result legislative making process and are gazetted. Failure to substantively and procedurally to comply with the rules, renders and meeting convened, unlawful.

“I say this with the greatest of respect- no matter how the provincial government feels, it cannot eschew the standing rules of order as if they do not exist - moreover, the principles of co-operative government dictate this.

“In any event. As indicated, a notice for leave to appeal has been issued and delivered. The general rule is that, until that is decided, the decision of the court cannot be given effect to,” Zulu wrote in the letter.

In a statement issued by Sithole-Moloi’s department after the change of guard at the northern KwaZulu-Natal municipality, all parties involved in the matter were asked to cooperate.

The department also said all prescripts of the law were followed.

“Acting Judge Mathenjwa of the Pietermaritzburg High Court rendered a judgment on 15 June, dismissing an application by the Nongoma Municipality and relevant parties seeking to invalidate the election of office bearers during a special council sitting.

“We had convened this council meeting, in accordance with the powers granted to MEC for Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs under Section 29(1)(a) of the Municipal Structures Act.

“During the special meeting, to which we had delegated the Head of Department, Mr Thando Tubane, on Thursday, we informed the councillors that the department had reinstated the Office Bearers elected at the Special Council Sitting, as mandated by the court's judgment.

“We did this after the court discharged the interdict that had prevented the elected Office Bearers from assuming their duties.

“Additionally, the members of Council were informed that the department had notified the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) of the latest court ruling on the matter.

“We would like to emphasise that the department has followed all due legal processes throughout the matter which is why we were not surprised by at the outcome.

“We are always reluctant to resort to the courts to resolve matters because we believe that court processes are costly and time-consuming while many issues can be resolved amicably when due process is followed within the ambit of the law.

“However, when we are dragged to the courts, this leaves us without any choice but to defend our actions as we want to ensure that the rule of law prevails.

“It is sad that not all of our leaders particularly in municipalities subscribe to these principles,” the department said in its statement.

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