Jozini Local Municipality’s municipal manager “ran away” before opposition councillors could find out why a meeting to elect the mayor, speaker and deputy mayor was postponed.
However, the African National Congress said it had called for the postponement in a bid to hold negotiations with the next-largest party, the Inkatha Freedom Party.
According to the Thembeni KaMadlopha-Mthethwa, an IFP member of the provincial legislature, the acting municipal manager, SW Zondo, ran away from councillors attending the meeting.
“We were supposed to hold a meeting today but were then told by the acting municipal manager that the meeting has been postponed till further notice. After receiving that information the IFP, [Democratic Alliance] DA and [Economic Freedom Fighters] EFF councillors went to seek clarity from the acting municipal manager about the reason behind the postponement of the meeting,” KaMadlopha-Mthethwa said.
“He told us that after the ANC councillors had complained to Cogta (Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs), Cogta gave an instruction that the meeting should be postponed. We then requested him to explain that to all councillors, but he chose to run away and he is nowhere to be found.”
The municipality, which is one of the province’s hung municipalities, has been unable to elect office bearers since the August 3 local government elections as the African National Congress and an independent candidate have 20 seats and a loose coalition of the IFP, EFF and the DA also have 20 seats.
Attempts to contact SW Zondo were not successful and officials who answered the Jozini municipal phones said he was not there.
Cogta spokesman Lennox Mabaso said that senior Cogta officials were on their way to Jozini, when they were informed by the presiding officer (Zondo) that “parties” had requested a postponement for negotiations.
“The reason advanced was that parties wanted to negotiate so that the meeting could go ahead. That’s the information we received.”
ANC spokesman Mdumiseni Ntuli said the ANC had sought to postpone the meeting in a bid to hold negotiations with the IFP.
“Unfortunately our communication had not reached the municipality by the time the meeting was called. We are hoping to be in a better situation. We think the ANC and the IFP need as the largest parties to talk to each other.”
He said that the negotiations had yet to be held and he believed that the party’s provincial secretary, Super Zuma, would hold meetings with the IFP.
He said that if the negotiations with the IFP were unsuccessful, the party would accept that the vote for the chief office bearers, such as the mayor, deputy mayor and speaker, would have to be done by a lot (names drawn out of a hat).
“We will respect the law, but we view it as a very unstable situation,” he said.
DA leader Zwakele Mncwango said that the DA had not sought a postponement of the meeting.
It was the Jozini council’s fourth attempt to elect the office bearers.
– African New Agency (ANA)