Mayor’s sup­port­ers pre­pare for court

Bold de­ci­sions needed to re­gain peo­ple’s con­fi­dence

The Mercury - - FRONT PAGE - SIHLE MAVUSO [email protected] See pages 2 & 3

HOURS af­ter the ANC in KwaZu­luNatal (KZN) con­firmed it had fired Zandile Gumede as eThekwini mayor, her sup­port­ers started a two-pronged le­gal process to fight her axing.

The leader of the sup­port group, Mzomuhle Dube, told In­de­pen­dent Me­dia yesterday its le­gal chal­lenge would start this week at the Pi­eter­mar­itzburg High Court where it would be fight­ing the party over its June de­ci­sion to dis­band the eThekwini re­gion of the ANC.

This was chaired by Gumede and deputised by Mondli Mthembu, both ac­cused of fraud and cor­rup­tion in con­nec­tion with an al­leged dodgy R208 mil­lion eThekwini waste col­lec­tion ten­der.

Dube said af­ter go­ing through the re­port that was used to fire Gumede as mayor, they would de­cide whether to take that is­sue to court or not.

Stress­ing that the re­port used was il­le­gal as the party re­lied on a Cogta (Depart­ment of Co-op­er­a­tive Gov­er­nance and Tra­di­tional Af­fairs) re­port which he claimed was only as­sess­ing of­fi­cials, not po­lit­i­cal de­ploy­ees, he hinted that they may chal­lenge it in court.

“This is a con­tin­u­a­tion of what we have al­ready started. The mat­ter that will soon be filed in court is the one about the dis­band­ing of the struc­ture (eThekwini re­gion ANC).

“But still we want to study whether the re­port the PEC (pro­vin­cial ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee) re­lied on to reach its de­ci­sion was law­ful. We will take it from there and explore our le­gal re­course. We have those two (ac­tions) that are lined up,” Dube said.

Fol­low­ing her axing as mayor of KZN’s only metro, Gumede has re­mained mum about her future.

On the other side, the ANC was also tight-lipped about who would re­place Gumede and the other seven ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee mem­bers. This was af­ter the party fired them, say­ing it would an­nounce their re­place­ments next week Thurs­day af­ter meet­ing branches.

Sev­eral names were be­ing touted, in­clud­ing those of MECs in the pro­vin­cial cab­i­net who only came to of­fice af­ter the May elec­tions.

One dark horse that emerged from sources in the ANC was the name of for­mer deputy mayor, Nomvuzo Sha­bal­ala.

Sha­bal­ala left the mu­nic­i­pal­ity in 2016, to­gether with for­mer mayor James Nx­u­malo.

She is now a mem­ber of the na­tional as­sem­bly rep­re­sent­ing the prov­ince in Cape Town.

“I don’t see James Nx­u­malo com­ing back to work with the same peo­ple who em­bar­rassed him. Maybe Nomvuzo can con­sider com­ing back to be mayor, but not James. He was badly treated,” said an ANC mem­ber in the re­gion, who asked not to be named.

With no for­mal struc­ture of the ANC in the re­gion, it was not easy to tell who would get the po­si­tion of deputy mayor, speaker, chief whip and the chairs of com­mit­tees.

Ad­dress­ing the press yesterday af­ter the firing of Gumede and her Msun­duzi coun­ter­part, Themba Njilo, the pro­vin­cial sec­re­tary, Mdu­miseni Ntuli, said the exco mem­bers Zama Sokhabase, Bar­bara Fortein and for­mer chief whip, Neli Nyanisa would be re­de­ployed within the mu­nic­i­pal­ity.

He said there would be no vac­uum as the cur­rent top struc­ture, with act­ing mayor Fawzia Peer re­main­ing in charge. How­ever, Gumede’s future in the mu­nic­i­pal­ity was not clear.

“Gumede is not re­turn­ing to work to­mor­row, no,” Ntuli said, when asked to clar­ify what would hap­pen to her as the oth­ers would stay in their po­si­tions un­til a new team was an­nounced.

How­ever, she was ex­pected to make it into the re­gional task team that was still be­ing for­mu­lated af­ter it had been re­jected by branches when it was first an­nounced in June.

DUR­ING the past few years, a dis­turb­ing trend of en­ti­tle­ment and cor­rup­tion de­vel­oped within the ma­jor­ity of mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties.

Some coun­cil­lors had shown dis­dain for the law and the cul­ture of ac­count­abil­ity.

The frus­tra­tion and anger ex­pressed by res­i­dents through ser­vice de­liv­ery protests be­fore the May 8 elec­tions proved be­yond doubt that the coun­try’s lo­cal gov­ern­ment had be­come the big­gest po­lit­i­cal, eco­nomic and so­cial li­a­bil­ity.

With the 2021 lo­cal gov­ern­ment elec­tions com­ing, the is­sue of lo­cal gov­ern­ment per­for­mance needs to be an ur­gent one or that elec­tion day could be rev­o­lu­tion day.

Al­though rul­ing par­ties in dif­fer­ent mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties want us to be­lieve that they are in con­trol of the sit­u­a­tion, res­i­dents are con­tin­u­ously in­un­dated with re­ports of may­ors, coun­cil­lors and mu­nic­i­pal man­agers not up­hold­ing their pub­lic man­dates and not ad­her­ing to the principle of good gov­er­nance, namely ac­count­abil­ity, in­tegrity and re­spon­sive­ness.

There is no doubt that un­less strong ac­tion is taken against the cor­rupt and dys­func­tional mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties, res­i­dents will shun the 2021 lo­cal gov­ern­ment elec­tions. This calls for bold de­ci­sions and ef­fec­tive pro­grammes to re­con­nect coun­cil­lors and res­i­dents in or­der to re­gain lo­cal gov­ern­ment con­fi­dence. Af­ter all, lo­cal gov­ern­ment can and should serve as a cat­a­lyst to bring re­sources, peo­ple, pro­grammes and plans to­gether to ac­com­plish com­mon lo­cal goals.

In the wake of the KZN ANC’s sup­port hav­ing dropped by 10% in the May 8 na­tional and pro­vin­cial elec­tions, the party needs to be ap­plauded for tak­ing ur­gent and bold de­ci­sions against mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties im­pli­cated by the lat­est Au­di­tor Gen­eral’s re­port as dys­func­tional.

Though the is­sues were badly han­dled, the in­ten­tion will be ac­cepted by mem­bers and cit­i­zens as a step to­wards the right di­rec­tion.

For in­stance, the is­sues of crime and cor­rup­tion as­so­ci­ated with the may­ors of New­cas­tle and eThekwini Metro should have been dealt with sum­mar­ily.

The PEC has po­lit­i­cal author­ity to de­ploy, re­call and re­de­ploy – why did it fail to use that author­ity? This has sent a mes­sage of in­de­ci­sive­ness and be­ing soft on these se­ri­ous trans­gres­sions.

Though the two lead­ers have not been found guilty by the courts, the ac­cu­sa­tions are se­ri­ous enough to de­mand ur­gent ac­tion in the per­cep­tion-rid­den po­lit­i­cal space.

It is my be­lief that may­ors are not the only ones re­spon­si­ble for lo­cal gov­ern­ment fail­ures.

Coun­cil­lors and mu­nic­i­pal of­fi­cials are also re­spon­si­ble. Hence the PEC should have con­sulted com­mu­ni­ties to find out whether they were happy with per­for­mances of coun­cil­lors.

Coun­cil­lors have tar­nished lo­cal gov­ern­ment’s im­age and rep­u­ta­tion, and as a re­sult it no longer com­mands pub­lic con­fi­dence, trust, sup­port, ac­cep­tance and im­por­tance.

The South African Cham­ber of Com­merce and In­dus­try (Sacci) has warned the gov­ern­ment that the financial dol­drums of lo­cal gov­ern­ment were in­hibit­ing eco­nomic and de­vel­op­ment per­for­mances and a big threat to the coun­try’s in­vest­ment drive. “It is Sacci’s view that the man­ner in which mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties are led, man­aged and op­er­ated is the pri­mary cause of their prob­lems. Gov­ern­ment’s own cur­rent prac­tice of how lead­er­ship and man­age­ment are ap­pointed to run its mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties is where all prob­lems start.”

It is high time that the ANC re­alises the fact that hav­ing skilled and com­pe­tent peo­ple driv­ing the en­gine of de­liv­ery are ab­so­lute pre­req­ui­sites if they are to de­liver ba­sic ser­vices to the masses. While hon­esty and ca­pac­ity should be pre­req­ui­sites for se­lec­tion to be a coun­cil­lor, skills and not po­lit­i­cal af­fil­i­a­tion should be the main cri­te­rion for em­ploy­ment or ad­vance­ment in lo­cal gov­ern­ment.

It is un­for­tu­nate that party mem­bers have turned lo­cal gov­ern­ment into a fer­tile ground for feath­er­ing their nests through cor­rup­tion and loot­ing.

Like other mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties else­where, KZN mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties, par­tic­u­larly eThekwini and Msun­duzi, have been the worst per­form­ers over the past three years.

The PEC’s de­ci­sions to change their lead­er­ships are wel­comed but a lot still needs to done to change their for­tunes ahead of the 2021 elec­tions.

Now the PEC’s fo­cus needs to shift to en­sur­ing that the eThekwini and Msun­duzi’s elec­tive re­gional con­gresses take place within a gen­uine demo­cratic en­vi­ron­ment in or­der to en­sure that their out­comes are ac­cepted by all.

The con­fer­ences are ex­pected to be highly con­tested. And for the PEC to emerge with hon­est and ca­pa­ble lead­ers that will ap­peal to vot­ers in 2021, it has to give sup­port to branches to run their elec­tion process freely and fairly.

Or else the PEC’s cur­rent de­ci­sion is likely to back­fire as the fired may­ors are likely to re­treat to their branches and mo­bilise for their come­backs.

Do not be sur­prised if a num­ber of in­de­pen­dent can­di­dates who were for­mer ANC coun­cil­lors con­test the com­ing elec­tions.

For now the PEC’s de­ci­sion is a land­mark one – I, wish oth­ers learn from it.

News Agency(ANA) | MOTSHWARI MO­FO­KENG African

RICARDO Mthembu, left, the new spokesper­son of the ANC in KwaZulu-Natal, and ANC KZN sec­re­tary Mdu­miseni Ntuli dis­cuss the de­ci­sions that were taken by the party’s pro­vin­cial ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee on lead­er­ship changes it made in its mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties.

Zandile Gumede

DUR­BAN City Hall – the heart of the eThekwini Mu­nic­i­pal­ity. The writer says the is­sues as­so­ci­ated with the New­cas­tle and eThekwini met­ros should have been dealt with sum­mar­ily.

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