eThekwini cancels exco as Zuma visits city

2015-05-19 18:21
(File: AP)

(File: AP)

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Durban - eThekwini Metro Mayor James Nxumalo cancelled a mandatory executive council meeting on Tuesday to host President Jacob Zuma, who was seemingly in the city to sort out party politics.

This was met with outrage by opposition parties, who said it was unfair that party politics were addressed on taxpayers' time and money.

News24 can reveal that Zuma, along with five other ANC top brass, were in Durban on Tuesday to deal with the party's internal organisational problems, including the eThekwini regional conference.

ANC provincial spokesperson, Sicelo Khuzwayo, said “obviously when there are such visits, if he is available, the president always attends”.

Khuzwayo said this was a planned visit and that Zuma was not only visiting to deal with the troubled eThekwini region, but also to sort out other internal issues facing the region.

“There is nothing unusual about the visit. The leadership has been visiting various provinces to address organisational issues facing the different provinces.

“The ANC scheduled this meeting a long time ago and even if the eThekwini regional conference was convened, we would have had this meeting; this is not a trouble-shooting meeting.”

When asked if the details of the meeting would be made public he said the party was not at liberty to divulge internal matters. “We will not be holding a briefing about today’s meeting because this is a strictly confidential organisational matter,” said Khuzwayo.  

The region, which is the ANC's biggest, has been marred by controversy over the party failing to convene a successful conference.

The highly challenged position of regional chairperson is being contested by eThekwini mayor James Nxumalo and councillor Zandile Gumede. Both are members of the eThekwini executive council.

Disrupted proceedings

The eThekwini conference, scheduled to convene for the fourth time, was adjourned indefinitely earlier this month after disgruntled members, believed to be in Gumede's faction, disrupted proceedings.

The cancellation of the executive meeting has irked Exco members in the opposition parties.

There are 12 members in the executive, including the speaker and the chief whip.

The ANC has the majority of seats while the DA has two seats and the National Freedom Party and IFP have one seat each.

eThekwini DA caucus leader, Zwakele Mncwango, said he received a SMS on Monday saying Exco had been postponed until May 26 due to Mayor James Nxumalo’s unavailability.

“I told them that reason was not good enough because Deputy Mayor Nomvuzo Shabalala could chair the meeting. Shortly after that we received a second SMS informing us that Exco was postponed because the president was in the city,” said Mncwango.

The SMS, seen by News24, reads: "Please note the primary reason for the postponement of Exco meeting is that President Jacob Zuma is visiting the city tomorrow [on Tuesday].

Mncwango said, “We have Exco every Tuesday to deal with issues pertaining to the city. Today the mayor was due to deal with the serious issue of the city hiring members of the MKMVA to be security guards around the city.

“We always raise the issue of politicians who put their party obligations first. Why couldn’t they set a date that was not going to disturb running of the city? Why can’t the citizens of this city come first?

“What they have done irritates me and it is not the first time that they have done this,” said Mncwango.

He said there were tensions in the executive council as both Nxumalo and Gumede sit on the eThekwini executive council.

National Freedom Party Exco member, Bongiwe Mtshali, said she also received the message.

“The eThekwini region really annoys us because we are dealing with issues affecting people and yet they decide to be absent.

“This whole thing is having a negative effect on service delivery. This is taxpayer’s money we are dealing with. What irritates me the most is mixing council issues and party problems,” said Mtshali.

Postponed

Exco member Mdu Nkosi said the IFP questioned why the city postponed Exco to meet the president without members of the opposition.

“We will ask the mayor in the next sitting what happened during the meeting because we assume that this meeting was called to address ANC factional fighting in the eThekwini region.

“If it was a meeting that had something with the day-to-day running of the eThekwini Municipality then we would have been invited to the meeting with the president,” said Nkosi.

Nkosi said he hoped the ANC would resolve its party issues for the sake of stability in the region.

“When two bulls fight, it is the grass that suffers. In this situation it will be the people in the eThekwini region. We need political stability so that we can deliver services to our people. Even though it was not explained to us why the president was here, it is pretty clear to us what is happening,” said Nkosi.

eThekwini Municipality head of communications, Tozi Mthethwa, confirmed that Exco was cancelled because the president was in the city.

“Owing to the visit by the Honourable President Jacob Zuma to the city, the Executive Committee meeting scheduled today has been postponed  to Tuesday, 26/05/2015,” said Mthethwa.

When asked if the mayor was hosting the president in his capacity as the mayor of eThekwini or as the ANC chairperson of the eThekwini region she said, “Mayor James Nxumalo will be hosting the President in his capacity as the mayor of eThekwini.”

Political analyst Protas Madlala said because eThekwini region is the ANC's biggest region, decisions taken affect what happens at provincial and national level.

“In isiZulu there is a saying that we say that if the father of the house can drop everything and come home, it means something. The same can be said about this situation. Obviously we know the reasons that bring him here.

“If he has cancelled everything to address them then it means he has something very important to say to them,” said Madlala.

He said it was unfortunate that ratepayers had to suffer the consequences.

“It is important that the president deals with the matter properly because a lot is at stake. What happens in eThekwini affect the province and what happens at a national level.

“This meeting is important because once the eThekwini regional conference sits, officials must be able to concentrate on their daily duties, which is service delivery,” said Madlala.

Read more on:    da  |  anc  |  ifp  |  jacob zuma  |  durban  |  politics

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