Nquthu municipality remains only council in SA without a mayor
Officials on Tuesday again failed to elect political leadership for the embattled Nquthu municipality in northern KwaZulu-Natal‚ leaving it the only council in the country without a mayor.
ANC and IFP supporters tried to force their way inside the Pietermaritzburg City Hall, where a chaotic meeting was being held to try elect Nquthu Municipality office bearers.
This was the sixth attempt to constitute the council‚ but was again abandoned when councillors from both parties started bickering over the proceedings. The meeting was held in Pietermaritzburg‚ about 200km from Nquthu‚ because of safety fears.
Nquthu now faces the prospect of being dissolved and reconstituted‚ a government official said. With two rival coalition’s deadlocked — and continuing legal battles over the status of EFF and National Freedom Party (NFP) councillors — various attempts have been made to convene a sitting to elect a mayor‚ deputy mayor and speaker. Each time the attempts have failed.
Because of this‚ the Department of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs has tried to take over the process. Even this has proven ineffective.
During the latest attempt on Tuesday‚ again chaos erupted. Tempers ran high inside and outside the Pietermaritzburg City Hall, when both the ANC and IFP supporters arrived at the venue wanting to force their way inside‚ adding to an already tense atmosphere after department-appointed official Zamo Mkhize‚ tasked with overseeing the process, was rejected by the ANC.
IFP provincial leader Blessed Gwala accused the ANC of frustrating the process. "For over five months the Nquthu Municipality has been without a properly elected council‚" said an angry Gwala.
He said the meeting proceeded well with Mkhize officiating until the name of the IFP mayoral candidate was proposed and seconded.
"At this point‚ Mr Lucky Moloi who we believe is the ANC mayoral candidate, questioned why Mr Zamo Mkhize was running the election and not the Department of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs. Then ANC members from Pietermaritzburg barged into the hall, singing and chanting ANC slogans. Their actions disrupted the entire process‚" said Gwala.
He said he tried to call MEC Nomusa Dube-Ncube and provincial ANC secretary Super Zuma without success, as they did not answer their phones.
Gwala decried the lack of police presence at the venue. He said when members of the public order policing arrived they provoked members of the IFP, who were gathering outside the City Hall after they heard that ANC members were disrupting a government event.
"It would appear that this was another ploy by the ANC to derail the election process. From what happened today it is clear that Mr Lucky Moloi is the ANC’s canon on the deck and that the ANC is hell-bent on ensuring that the people of Nquthu do not get a democratically elected council‚" he said.
The majority IFP is expected to govern the council. The party has 15 seats to the ANC’s 14, while the NFP has two and the EFF and DA have one seat apiece.
The IFP needs the EFF and the DA to edge out an ANC-NFP coalition.
Dube-Ncube also expressed her frustration with Nquthu. She said when it became clear that the council was unwilling to elect its office bearers‚ the department intervened in the municipality by putting it under administration.
"We have made it clear repeatedly to all political parties at Nquthu that we expect them to put the interest of their community before narrow political considerations, and to elect municipal office bearers to ensure that the municipality functions as mandated by the country’s Constitution. We will continue to make this point until we prevail‚" said Dube-Ncube.
Recounting what happened in Pietermaritzburg Dube-Ncube’s version was that all elected councillors were timeously notified and attended the meeting.
"It was during the proceedings of the meeting that a debate ensued among councillors over the procedures of convening the meeting. Temperatures ran high among councillors and the meeting became uncontrollable and eventually collapsed."
Dube-Ncube expressed regret about political squabbles among different political parties.
"We as the Department of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs will nevertheless continue to facilitate the efforts to make this municipality fully functional‚" she said.