2010-03-19 00:00

HEEDING the ANC’s call, axed Msunduzi political heads tendered their resignations yesterday and paved the way for new leadership to take over the reins of the city.

ANC provincial secretary Sihle Zikalala said councillors on the party’s proportional representation (PR) list have been asked to leave altogether, and will not be part of any municipality, rendering them virtually unemployed.

As it stands, the city is both mayorless and without an executive committee (Exco).

Zikalala said that to bring stability to the municipality, Mayor Zanele Hlatshwayo, Deputy Mayor Mervyn Dirks, council speaker Alpha Shelembe, chief whip Sehla Ngubane and Exco members Pops Chetty, Themba Zungu, Gerrit Meyer, Zonke Mbatha and Tholakele Dlamini were all asked to step down.

“This decision does not constitute any judgment of wrongdoing on their part, but arises from the need to ensure cohesion and synergy among the senior political office bearers of council,” he said.

Shelembe and Mbatha will continue to serve as ward councillors so as not to inconvenience residents and add unnecessary expenditure by holding by-elections in their wards. While Hlatshwayo, Dirks and Zungu will have to leave the council, the other members may yet be retained as ordinary councillors.

Zikalala told The Witness that the future of the other members with regard to Msunduzi will be discussed in the near future.

At a press conference held at the ANC provincial office in Durban yesterday, Zikalala confirmed that ANC leaders serving in the municipality have been recalled, but their replacements are still being considered.

Zikalala said the clear lack of political stability and maladministration within the municipality had prompted the party to act.

“On a number of occasions, the ANC had to endure serious negative reports arising from the manner in which our councillors have been conducting themselves in their duties. Consistent with our approach, we have engaged with this situation to ensure that it does not get to an extent of hampering service delivery to the people,” he said.

Zikalala said the new political office bearers will be discussed by the provincial working committee before being officially named. He could not confirm a date, but said the decision will be made before the month-end at a full council meeting.

“This decision reflects a practical commitment on preserving good governance and ensuring that nothing frustrates the proper functioning of the council,” he said.

Zikalala reiterated support for the provincial government’s intervention with regard to the administration of the municipality.

Co-operative Governance MEC Nomusa Dube and Finance MEC Ina Cronje first acted by appointing a provincial task team last month to help turn the municipality’s poor financial situation around.

Last week, the MECs took the further step of placing the municipality under administration, appointing local government expert Johann Mettler to run its affairs.

“The provincial government intervention resonates with our commitment of ensuring proper functioning of municipalities without fear or favour,” Zikalala said. “Irrespective of the political party in charge, the ANC will not compromise on the functioning of municipalities and service delivery.”

Zikalala said he hopes the party’s move will quash allegations that the ANC intervenes only in municipalities led by opposition parties.

Provincial ANC head of communications Makhosi Khoza chaired the press conference and sources have named her as the likely candidate to replace the outgoing mayor. MPL Mike Tarr has been tipped as another favourite who may be brought in to serve the party in Msunduzi.

Zikalala said claims made by certain Exco members that the regional executive committee (REC) in the Moses Mabhida region is to blame for meddling in the running and functioning of the municipality are untrue.

He admitted there were challenges within the REC, but cited the region’s growing membership as a reason for this. He said he is confident the party will once again reign supreme in the next local government elections, which are less than a year away.

DA caucus leader Bill Lambert said the move was not an unexpected one.

He said it was now up to the ANC to ensure that those elected to replace the outgoing leadership would act in the best interests of all those residing in the city.

“Our great disappointment is that it has taken so long for this to happen. We’ve been ringing alarm bells for many months, particularly with regards to the mayor,” he said.

IFP caucus leader Dolo Zondi said he saw some of the booted councillors tendering in their resignations yesterday morning.

He said his party was happy with the decision and had been anticipating such an outcome for a while.

“I’m sure the mayor will learn a lesson from this. It’s just a pity that this had to happen during our time in office,” he said.

Zondi continued to say: “They were so arrogant. Even right at the beginning when they came in... The ANC must now get quality people who know what they are doing and will act in the best interests of the ratepayers. We need not politicize the municipality.”

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