Bitter battle for control in Greytown

2013-07-12 00:00

THE message on the Umvoti (Greytown) municipality’s webpage says: “Welcome to Umvoti Municipality: Town of Peace and Prosperity”.

However, the spectre of KZN’s violent past is being raised in the bitter leadership battle between the IFP and the ANC over control of the council, whose recent sittings have been attended by the police.

The ANC is accusing the IFP of using violence to get its way. The IFP, in turn, says the ANC is lying and creating a sensation as a ploy to retain power of the council.

The latest drama, which took place this week, saw ANC councillor Ahmed Shaikh, who the IFP claims has been ousted as speaker, call in the Public Order Police to maintain order during a sitting.

Shaikh confirmed that he called the police on Wednesday, when he accused the IFP of bringing in taxi loads of supporters, some of whom were allegedly armed, to intimidate municipal officials into handing over the keys to the offices of the mayor, deputy mayor and speaker.

The police were also called to be present at last Friday’s council meeting, which became rowdy.

Shaikh has also laid an assault charge against IFP councillor Mbongi Dlamini. He claimed Dlamini assaulted him in an attempt to grab the keys to his office on Monday. However, Dlamini denied being involved in any physical altercation with Shaikh.

IFP councillor Mthandeni Ngubane yesterday accused the ANC of gross exaggeration. He said his party believed the ANC was determined to cling on to power to the extent that it would rather have the council placed under administration than hand over control to the opposition parties.

“We believe the ANC is creating this hullaballoo as a smokescreen to get the [Co-operative Governance] MEC involved rather than hand over control of the council to us, the opposition parties,” Ngubane said.

He claimed the ANC councillors were being aided and abetted in this exaggeration by senior officials in the council, who were ANC deployees.

Hovever, Cogta MEC Nomusa Dube was not taking any chances. She issued a statement yesterday, saying that security measures were being stepped up at Umvoti Municipality, following threats to municipal officials.

Dube said she had received an urgent report alerting her to complaints from municipal employees that they were “apparently being intimidated and their work was being disrupted by unruly elements at the municipal precinct”.

The MEC urged the parties in the council to come together to ensure political stability at the municipality.

This week’s developments are a sequel to a coup staged by opposition parties in the council a week ago, when the ANC was voted out from the leadership. This was done by the combined votes of the IFP, NFP and DA.

However, all did not go according to plan for the IFP, as it believes it should now have more members in the executive committee.

It consequently took its fight to the high court. Argument will be heard next week, with the ANC filing papers challenging the IFP’s version of events.

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