Ladysmith - The special council sitting of the IFP-led Uthukela District Municipality in Ladysmith, northern KwaZulu-Natal, ended in a stalemate.
The aim of the ANC-EFF alliance to use the sitting to oust the IFP mayor, Inkosi Ntandoyenkosi Shabalala, and the Speaker, Lihle Nqubuka, came to nought.
The council sitting was convened by a special representative sent by the MEC for Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs in KwaZulu-Natal, Bongi Sithole-Moloi.
Video: Sihle Mavuso/IOL
The sitting was asked for by ANC and EFF councillors who claimed that the Speaker had repeatedly refused to call for it, despite having received the required number of signatures by councillors.
On Thursday there was an urgent application by the municipality to interdict the sitting, through the Pietermaritzburg High Court, but the application was turned down.
Then, late on Thursday a voice note started doing rounds, calling all IFP members to convene in front of the district municipality offices in central Ladysmith.
WATCH: The situation outside the offices of the UThukela district municipality in Ladysmith in northern KwaZulu-Natal right now. Police had to intervene to restore order. @IOL pic.twitter.com/7ihNxMQzlm— Sihle Mavuso (@ZANewsFlash) May 5, 2023
By 9am on Friday the party’s faithful were already in front of the offices picketing and blocking the entrance.
At some point, armed police had to use teargas to disperse them and clear the entrance. No injuries were reported.
However, one of the minority parties’ councillors, Nathi Mthethwa from the National People’s Ambassadors, was left with a torn jacket after clashing with IFP supporters who manhandled him before the police intervened.
NEWS: KZN COGTA says it is going ahead with the special council sitting of the Uthukela district municipality. It says the attempt to interdict the sitting in the Pietermaritzburg High Court by the IFP-led council failed and councillors should therefore come through. @IOL pic.twitter.com/chcBBqnmFQ— Sihle Mavuso (@ZANewsFlash) May 4, 2023
The gates were opened and the councillors were able to access to the offices.
The sitting faced another hurdle when some IFP councillors did not show up, meaning the quorum was not met.
WATCH: This is the situation outside the offices of the IFP-led UThukela district municipality in Ladysmith in northern KwaZulu-Natal ahead of Friday's special council sitting called by KwaZulu-Natal COGTA. pic.twitter.com/WsvF8fBK5F— Sihle Mavuso (@ZANewsFlash) May 5, 2023
Another challenge was that the Cogta representative had come with a list that had the name of a DA councillor who had been expelled from the party, rendering the list unusable.
“The special council sitting could not proceed because Cogta came with a different list to what the Uthukela district municipality has.
“The Cogta list had a name of a DA councillor who was expelled from the party,” the district municipality said in an official statement announcing the collapse of the sitting.
UPDATE: IFP members from around Ladysmith have blocked the entrance to the offices of Uthukela district municipality in northern KwaZulu-Natal and no one is able to access them. This is where KZN COGTA has called a special council sitting pic.twitter.com/nmo7FDewME— Sihle Mavuso (@ZANewsFlash) May 5, 2023
The DA is the coalition partner of the IFP in the municipality.
KwaZulu-Natal Cogta promised to issue a comprehensive statement about the matter and by the time of publishing, the statement had not been sent.