DA boycott ‘ANC launch’

2013-06-27 00:00

ELECTION politics emerged in Pietermaritzburg yesterday, with the northern areas social ills campaign at the centre of the storm.

Democratic Alliance councillors boycotted the campaign launch, describing it “as nothing more than ANC electioneering”.

The opposition party was further incensed that yesterday’s full council meeting was postponed at the last minute to accommodate the campaign launch at the Truro Hall. It said it was also going to boycott today’s council meeting because the ruling party had acted in an “autocratic and dictatorial” manner by unilaterally changing the date of the meeting.

DA caucus leader Bill Lambert said the ANC was allowing its private election agenda to take precedence over a statutory council meeting. He said changing the date meant that the executive committee (Exco) meeting, which usually takes place on a Thursday, had to be postponed. Lambert added that a council beginning to turn the corner after being under administration can ill afford to postpone meetings. This was especially as the council was going on recess for the next two weeks.

Msunduzi Speaker Babu Baijoo said the council meeting had been postponed to accommodate a government event and not an ANC function. He said the social ills project was a multi-party campaign. “The focus is a war against drugs and crime. The same was done in Chatsworth and Phoenix. I felt it was an important enough reason to postpone the meeting. We followed due process. I contacted all party whips on Saturday and also placed a notice in Monday’s Witness.”

Premier Zweli Mkhize spoke briefly at the launch before rushing off to an urgent meeting in Johannesburg. His spokesperson Ndabe Sibiya later told The Witness that the meeting was not linked to former president Nelson Mandela’s critical condition, but to other matters.

Mkhize said the launch of the campaign was the beginning of the war against drugs.

KZN Finance MEC Ina Cronjé, who is championing the social ills campaign in the Umgungundlovu District, spoke out against those who excluded themselves. She said the campaign was for everyone who cared about the community. “The only people excluded are those that chose to exclude themselves.”

When Msunduzi Mayor Chris Ndlela spoke, members of the Msunduzi Rates Forum (MRF) walked out of the hall.

MRF chairperson Babs Sithapersad said the mayor had still not got back to them on the petition delivered to the municipality during a protest march late last year.

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