Court reinstates Umvoti municipality IFP councillors
Councillors had been dismissed for not attending meetings, but court rules the expulsion was procedurally unfair
The Umvoti (Greytown) municipality said it would respect a court ruling setting aside a decision to dismiss eight IFP councillors for not attending council meetings.
The court action was instituted by Umzinyathi district municipality mayor Petros Ngubane; Gabriel Malembe, the former IFP mayor of Umvoti; and Noluthando Dlamini, Mbongiseni Dlamini, Vincent Zondi, Vukani Gwala, Lindokuhle Zondi and Mbuyiseni Majozi after their expulsion in July 2023.
In October they successfully obtained an interim interdict overturning their expulsion.
Pietermaritzburg high court Judge Pieter Bezuidenhout said the process leading to the decision was procedurally unfair. He said Umvoti mayor Philani Mavundla should not have sat in a special rules and ethics committee — which recommended the expulsion of the councillors by KwaZulu-Natal co-operative governance and traditional affairs MEC Bongiwe Sithole-Moloi — because Mavundla had initially laid a complaint against them.
Also, the councillors hadn’t been given the right to make further submissions to the MEC before they were expelled.
In granting the interim relief, the judge said they were likely to succeed in their bid for a final order. He also prohibited the municipality from holding by-elections to replace them.
The matter returned to court on November 10 when a final order was granted.
The municipality said it “accepts and respects the outcome of the high court ruling in as far as it relates to the issues presented to the court by the applicants”.
“Having accepted this, Umvoti municipality remains of the firm view that the councillors in question staged a walkout of two meetings and were absent from two other meetings.
“The said IFP councillors were absent from four council meetings, which is a direct contravention of the code of conduct for councillors and the standing rules of council which are clear on what the procedures are pertaining to absenteeism.”
Councillors are expected to render a formal apology if they are unable to attend a council meeting, which the IFP failed to do on several occasions, it added.
The municipality said there would be further deliberations on the court ruling at the next sitting of the rules and ethics committee meeting.
Would you like to comment on this article?
Sign up (it's quick and free) or sign in now.
Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.