Mandla Galo. Picture: SUNDAY TIMES
Mandla Galo. Picture: SUNDAY TIMES

The African Independent Congress (AIC) says Matatiele is ready to be administered by the KwaZulu-Natal provincial government and the party will ensure that this happens before the end of this year.

AIC is the small political party that has threatened to pull out of its coalition with the ANC unless the ruling party meets its demand for Matatiele to be re-incorporated into KwaZulu-Natal from the Eastern Cape.

The ANC entered into a coalition deal with the AIC after the August 2016 local government elections. With help from the AIC, the ANC retained Ekurhuleni, the only metro it controls in Gauteng, and Rustenburg in the North West. In return, the ANC committed to working towards the re-incorporation of Matatiele into KwaZulu-Natal.

Matatiele was moved to the Eastern Cape in 2005. The move was resisted by the local population, including the ANC’s own structures in the area, which resulted in the formation of the AIC to push for the area’s return to KwaZulu-Natal.

About four months ago, the AIC and the ANC signed a memorandum of understanding, committing themselves to a strict timetable that would see the introduction of a bill in the National Assembly seeking to allow Matatiele’s return.

According to Mandla Galo, president of the AIC: "As far as we are concerned, Matatiele was ready to be re-incorporated to KwaZulu-Natal as far back as 2005. The task team formed by both the ANC and the AIC to implement the tedious legislative process is busy monitoring the implementation of the memorandum of understanding. Between May and July this year the Department of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs, has been formulating ways of introducing a bill in the National Assembly.

"We expect that this bill will be introduced by [or] in September. It will then be presented to the Cabinet and from there it will go to advisors. From there it will be voted in the National Assembly. After it is voted, Matatiele will then move to KwaZulu-Natal. We expect this process to be completed by November this year," he said.

"We have delivered vital municipalities to the ANC and they will have to deliver on their side of the bargain. If they fail to do it before the end of this year, we will just walk away from these municipalities and leave them at the mercy of the opposition parties," Galo said.

However, on Monday, the ANC seemed to be back-tracking, saying it had not agreed to incorporate Matatiele into KwaZulu-Natal. ANC national spokesperson Khusela Sangoni said the party had merely agreed to a road plan to consider Matatiele’s re-incorporation. "We are working according to this road plan and there nothing I can add at this stage," she said, noting that negotiations are conducted on a party-to-party level and not through the media.

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