IFP likely to forfeit control of most of uThukela municipalities

2011-03-03 00:00

WITH the local government elections approaching, the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) is likely to lose control of most of its municipalities under the uThukela District municipality following the mass defection of its 66 councilors to the National Freedom Party (NFP).

Yesterday NFP leader Zanele “VZ” Magwaza-Msibi welcomed 45 former IFP councillors from five uThukela municipalities who have either been expelled from the IFP or have resigned.

The IFP is in charge of four out of five municipalities in uThukela: Indaka near Ladysmith, Mbabazane near Estcourt, uMtshezi in Estcourt, Okhahlamba in Bergville and the uThukela District Municipality.

Among the councillors who defected to the NFP, 27 are ward councillors and 18 are proportional representation (PR) councillors.

The IFP could still replace the PR councillors, while posts for ward councillors will remain vacant until this year’s local government elections. The last by-elections were held on January 19 this year.

Among those who were announced as new NFP members are Indaka Mayor Nkosinathi Mchunu, his deputy and the speaker, Okhahlamba mayor Vikizitha Mlotshwa, recently expelled uMtshezi mayor Bhekithemba Dlamini and the deputy mayor, his deputy and the speaker of Mbabazane local municipality.

The defections mean the IFP is likely to lose control over uMtshezi Municipality, Okhahlamba Municipality and in Mbabazane. In those municipalities the ANC now has a majority of seats, which means that it could successfully table a vote of no confidence against office-bearers like mayors, speakers and deputy mayors.

Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs spokesperson Mthatheni Mabaso said the department is awaiting reports from managers of the affected municipalities to see whether there are any where a quorum cannot be constituted so that the department can take the necessary steps to keep them running until the elections.

Mabaso explained that for municipalities to be able to take decisions, a quorum of 51% is required of all councillors in a given municipality.

Welcoming the new defectors, NFP leader Magwaza-Msibi said the IFP is definitely regretting purging those leaders who have sympathised with her.

“Come the local government elections, this district municipality is going to be under NFP control. The IFP should stop accusing us of being an ANC creation as top IFP leaders in the NEC [national executive committee] told me to leave the IFP and form my own party. This is the time for them to celebrate, but they cannot celebrate because the people they are expelling are leaving with the general membership,” an upbeat Magwaza-Msibi said.

She appealed to NFP members not to retaliate when attacked by IFP members, but to let the law take its course.

IFP national organiser Albert Mncwango said all the defectors have automatically ceased to be IFP councillors, “and we will replace all PR councillors and remove ward councillors from their positions”.

“Some of them had already been expelled from the IFP because they were useless and failed to do their jobs. They were not going to be retained anyway. They sensed that the people were not going to re-elect them and decided to go to the dumping ground, as the NFP seems to be these days,” Mncwango added.

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