Heads begin to roll

2010-03-17 00:00

NEWS of Alpha Shelembe’s resignation as Msunduzi Municipality’s council speaker sent shock waves through the city yesterday, with opposition parties saying the move was unexpected.

ANC provincial secretary Sihle Zikalala said he received a report that Shelembe has resigned. Asked about the contents of the resignation letter, Zikalala said Shelembe is vacating his position to return to being an ordinary councillor.

At the moment, there is confusion over Msunduzi Mayor Zanele Hlatshwayo’s status in the municipality.

Rumours around the city hall were that Hlatshwayo removed her belongings from her office yesterday, but she denied this.

The Witness understands that Hlatshwayo got her personal assistant to help pack her personal items before leaving the premises.

When The Witness arrived at the city hall late yesterday afternoon, the halls were deserted and Hlatshwayo’s official picture had been removed from the wall in the main foyer.

The chair used by Hlatshwayo’s personal assistant was vacant, but city hall employees confirmed that he had been at the office earlier in the day.

Hlatshwayo denied she had resigned and that she cleared her office. She said she did not instruct anyone to remove her photograph.

She said that she did not put herself in the mayor’s position, the ANC did, and that, if the ANC wants to redeploy her somewhere else, she would wait on such an instruction.

Sources said that last week all the ANC councillors in the municipality were interviewed about what led to the current state of affairs.

According to sources within the leadership of the provincial tripartite alliance, who spoke to The Witness on condition of anonymity, individuals implicated in the running down of the municipality will be investigated.

Members of the executive committee (Exco) were called in individually yesterday and asked about what led to the dire situation that the municipality now finds itself in.

Some time this week, each of the five deputy municipal managers is set to meet with municipal administrator Johann Mettler.

Despite confirmation from Zikalala, Shelembe told The Witness that he had not resigned. He said he is still waiting for today’s ANC regional meeting where he will be informed of his fate.

Deputy Mayor Mervyn Dirks said he was not in the office and was not aware that Hlatshwayo had packed her things and left.

DA caucus leader Bill Lambert said he had confirmation of Hlatshwayo’s departure and reacted as follows: “It’s really good news and it’s absolutely wonderful. She’s a well educated and intelligent lady who has got a dignified bearing and presence that befits the status of the first citizen of the city, but her dictatorial, autocratic and arrogant leadership style is totally unsuitable for local government.”

Lambert went on to say: “She will be the mayor that history will record as having brought the city to its knees.”

Lambert said Shelembe’s resignation was surprising, because the ANC has not yet had its regional meeting.

IFP caucus leader Dolo Zondi said Hlatshwayo’s departure came too late. He said the ANC had taken too long to remove her, as his party has been ringing alarm bells for years, but no one listened.

“It’s a good thing they have realised their mistakes. Who’s going to mend the damage? How is the disorder going to be rectified?” said Zondi.

He said councillors and management let down the residents of the city and the municipality is now in a mess.

He said Shelembe’s resignation was a shock.

“I’m amazed. I wonder why he resigned. We need continuity and this proves beyond any doubt that there are problems in the ANC.”

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