The ANC was accused by both the DA and the IFP on Monday of attempting to take control of municipalities that it did not control in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) through the back door.
Inaugural meetings at a number of municipalities have been postponed, while in Nqutu, the Inkatha Freedom Party housed its councillors in a hotel over the weekend to ensure they were safe following bribery offers and death threats.
“We actually had to find a safe place for our own councillors because they were getting threatening calls, or bribery calls so we had to arrange a secure place for them,” said Albert Mncwango, the IFP’s deputy national chairperson, speaking from Nquthu.
Both the IFP and the DA accused the ANC of disrupting meetings in a bid to make sure the Nqutu council and other councils could not convene within the stipulated time period and ultimately leave the provincial Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) MEC Nomusa Dube-Ncube with no alternative but to declare the municipalities dysfunctional. This would leave her in a position to place those municipalities under the administration of her department.
Both Mncwango and DA provincial leader Zwakele Mncwango said their respective councillors had received SMSes from the department requesting the cancellation of the inaugural meeting of the Nqutu Local Municipal council.
Nqutu was previously governed by a coalition of the National Freedom Party (NFP) and the ANC. However, after the August 3 local government elections, the IFP became the largest party, winning 15 seats, followed by the ANC with 14 seats, the DA and EFF each with one seat.
Last week the DA and the EFF announced they would be supporting the IFP in those municipalities where the IFP did not have outright control.
“Today there was the circulation of SMSes by Cogta saying that the meeting should be postponed, and we said they must go and jump. That is actually interference as as far as we are concerned. Cogta has no business in deciding whether Nquthu should be postponed. It is the function of the municipal manager in conjunction with the political parties.”
A copy of the SMS, which is in ANA’s possession reads: “Afternoon Sir. A request is made that you postpone tomorrow’s Nquthu Council meeting because of serious security concerns that have been brought to our attention. We would need to put in place an effective security and logistical plan in preparation for the meeting. If possible the meeting can be convened for Wednesday should you be in agreement with the request. We will also advise the IEC about these developments. We await to hear from you. Acting HOD Cogta.”
The IFP’s Mncwango said the party would be opening criminal cases against certain senior members of the ANC.
“We have on record what they were saying to our own councillors, threatening them, offering bribes, saying that if they did not accept bribes then they were going to disappear forever. We are going to be opening cases against them.”
Jackie Shandu, the EFF deputy chairperson, said: “The ANC is trying to hold on to power through mischievous ways.”
Zwakele Mncwango said that problems were also being experienced at a number of other municipalities where ANC councillors were, he said, doing their best to ensure that meetings were not able to take place.
Cogta spokesperson Lennox Mabaso could not be reached for comment, but an email sent shortly after 9am by Priscilla Shanmugam, the director in the Cogta responsible for municipal performance, monitoring, reporting and evaluation shows the Nquthu meeting had been postponed to Wednesday.
This despite the fact that neither the DA or the IFP had agreed to the postponement or been approached by the municipal manager.
A copy of the email is in ANA’s possession and shows that inaugural council meetings in Endumeni and Umzinyathi municipalities have also been postponed.
No comment could immediately be obtained from the ANC in response to the accusations being levelled against them.
– African News Agency (ANA)