Fisticuffs in KZN council

2008-07-04 00:00

Pandemonium broke out at the Imbabazane Municipality near Estcort on Thursday when two factions within the IFP-led council fought physically over the municipal manager’s position.

Windows, furniture and computers in the municipal offices were broken during the fracas. There were allegations that shots were fired at police who were called to disperse the fight.

Staff from the auditor-general’s office who were conducting an investigation into the financial affairs of the municipality had to run for cover when the fight broke out.

According to sources, both factions wanted to have their candidate appointed as municipal manager. They said one of the candidates is a local woman, while the other, a man, is not from the Imbabazane area. Sources alleged that the man’s faction went to the municipality offices demanding he be appointed as a municipal manager.

A councillor who wished to remain anonymous said that during the scuffle photos of government leaders such as President Thabo Mbeki, Premier S’bu Ndebele and Local Government MEC Mike Mabuyakhulu were removed and replaced by those of IFP leaders.

"The municipality is in a financial crisis and although the fight was about the municipal manager’s position, there were indications that some of the people involved in the fighting were trying to hide some papers from the staff from the auditor-general’s office who were there at the time. Documents were destroyed and files lay on the floor," said the councillor.

DA councillor Sandile Ndlovu said the IFP in the municipality is split and the fight was the result of the two factions not agreeing on who should be appointed as the municipal manager.

When contacted by Weekend Witness, Mayor Hlanganani Dlamini played down the incident, denying that a fight took place.

"People who were unsatisfied about the work of their councillors came and raised their concerns. We were not fighting. The people were protesting and when the police arrived to monitor the protest, people panicked and as they ran furniture, windows and other things were broken," said Dlamini.

Mabuyakhulu’s spokesman, Lennox Mabaso, said yesterday that the ministry views the latest developments in a serious light and has begun an investigation.

"We do note that in terms of the applicable local government legislation, there is no provision for the appointment of two individuals in a position that should be occupied by one qualifying incumbent," said Mabaso.

He said should the allegations be found to be true those responsible will be held accountable.

Police spokesman Superintendent Vincent Mdunge confirmed that the fight was over a position in the municipality.

He said it appeared the public were incited to remove the employee who had already started work in the manager’s position.

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