Councillor to fight for seat after DA spurns him

2013-03-11 00:00

AN independent councillor in the Umzimkhulu Municipality has lost his council seat after he reportedly applied to join the Democratic Alliance two months ago.

But ward 18 councillor Jabulani Chiya is now considering taking the municipality to court in an attempt to reclaim his seat, claiming he has not switched parties.

Municipal manager Zweliphansi Sikhosana told The Witness yesterday that Chiya was no longer a councillor after the council had declared his council seat vacant.

A by-election would be held on April 24.

He said the council stripped Chiya of his seat after an investigation was prompted by a complaint from the ANC.

This was after DA leader Helen Zille and other provincial leaders allegedly welcomed Chiya and others to the party on January 26. Sikhosana said the municipal investigation had found photos and a video of the DA event.

“The fact of the matter is that he defected to the DA,” Sikhosana said.

For this reason, the council had invoked Section 27 of the Municipal Structures Act, which does not allow switching of political parties.

“Immediately a vacancy is declared, one ceases to be a councillor. He is not enjoying the benefits of being a councillor,” he said.

He confirmed the municipality had stopped paying Chiya in January.

Sikhosana insisted that it was the prerogative of the council to declare a seat vacant when a councillor switched parties and no permission was needed from the MEC for Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs.

“The MEC gets involved only when there is an intention to expel a councillor. In this case Chiya has not been expelled, but he defected to another party,” he said.

Chiya denied being a DA member.

“I applied for membership, but it was not approved,” he said.

He claimed that he and the DA were considering signing a memorandum of understanding at the time of Zille’s visit.

He said he was consulting attorneys and would take legal action against the municipality.

DA provincial leader Sizwe Mchunu agreed that Chiya was not a DA member.

“He applied to be a member, but he was declined,” Mchunu said.

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