Estcourt mayor axed

2010-07-02 00:00

THE axing of Maliyakhe Shelembe, the Inkatha Freedom Movement mayor of uMtshezi municipality in Estcourt, which was announced by the IFP national council this week, has been received with mixed reactions by the divided IFP constituency in the area.

While there was an outcry from a faction led by uMtshezi speaker and IFP constituency chairperson Bhekithemba Dlamini, the news was joyously received by another faction led by constituency secretary Mthembeni Majola.

The IFP’s national organiser, Albert Mangaqa Mncwango, confirmed that during Monday’s IFP national council, a decision was reached that Shelembe should be dismissed as the IFP-appointed mayor of uMtshezi.

Mncwango did not give details about what led to the decision, but confirmed that Shelembe will continue as an IFP councillor in the municipality.

Deputy Mayor Muziwenhlanhla Joseph Ntshaba, who is also an IFP member, will act as mayor until the IFP appoints another person to the position, Mncwango said.

A visibly upset Dlamini told The Witness yesterday that they only heard about Shelembe’s axing on the radio and from newspapers.

“I can confirm that as the leadership of this constituency, we are yet to be formally informed by the leadership about the axing of our mayor. Also as the municipality, we were still happy with his work as we got recommended for our financial management during the last financial year.

“I really cannot comment on this action as we are still awaiting the leadership to formally inform us and explain reasons behind their decision,” Dlamini added.

Majola said: “This was a good decision indeed and it was long overdue. The mayor had been acting like he was greater than the party that put him to this position.

“We still like [Shelembe] as a member of our organisation, but not as the mayor. This decision is going to encourage the return of our members who left the party because of the way he was leading the municipality. We are very happy!”

Just like most IFP constituencies nowadays, Estcourt is divided into those who support IFP national chairperson Zanele Magwaza-Msibi and those who back secretary-general the Reverend Musa Zondi, to take over leadership when the IFP leader, Mangosuthu Buthelezi, steps down.

Shelembe, who was recently elected chairperson of uThukela District during a contentious conference, is believed to be a staunch supporter of ­Magwaza-Msibi.

His axing is believed to be part of an IFP campaign to clamp down on Magwaza-Msibi supporters ahead of the IFP national conference to be held from July 23 to July 25.

eThekwini and Johannesburg, which recently held their conferences, are also believed to have elected leaders who back Magwaza-Msibi.

Majola, a strong backer of Zondi, said they have been told that councillors at uMtshezi, uKhahlamba and Ndaka have threatened to resign en masse in solidarity with the axing of Shelembe.

“We appeal to them not to heed that call as it is them and their families who are going to suffer when their salaries are stopped.

“But should they do that, our disciplined members are waiting to take over those positions,” Majola warned.

Majola is not new to controversy. He surprised even his own party in March this year when he organised an IFP march to protest alleged nepotism, corruption and lack of service delivery by the IFP-led uMtshezi municipality.

REACTING to his ouster, Maliyakhe Shelembe accused the IFP national council of abusing their delegated powers and being vengeful against him “because I beat their darling candidates during the uThukela district conference”.

He and another mayor dropped by the IFP — Okhahlamba Municipality’s Vikizitha Richard Mlotshwa — are both from the uThukela district.

Both are known as diehard supporters of IFP chairperson Zanele Magwaza-Msibi.

The axing of Shelembe and Mlotshwa came just days after IFP leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi warned in a speech at the Johannesburg branch conference that the party will “draw a line in the sand” against the “Friends of VZ Magwaza”, a group that supports Zanele Magwaza-Msibi to take over leadership when Buthelezi retires.

Shelembe said: “A letter wrapped in a red file informing me about my dismissal was delivered to me on Tuesday. They did not put even a single reason for their decision.”

Shelembe said he is consulting his constituency about his next move on the matter.

“I was voted in by the people and must consult them before taking any decision.

“I believe there are hidden reasons behind this decision. It’s not pure redeployment as they are saying.

“Last financial year our municipality received accolades for better financial management. They did not even thank me for the work I have done for the party since I became the mayor,” Shelembe said angrily.

Recently, Shelembe said, he was accused of calling the IFP leader by his first name, destroying an IFP poster that had Buthelezi’s picture and stopping buses going to Buthelezi’s rally in Qhudeni last year.

He denied these allegations and that he is a member of the “Friends of VZ Magwaza”, and said he supports and respects all leaders of the IFP as IFP members.

Mlotshwa, who was previously facing disciplinary action for refusing to resign as the Mayor of Okhahlamba, also confirmed receiving a letter on Tuesday. It was signed by P. Govender, acting chairperson of the political oversight committee

The letter informed him that he is being “re-deployed” as an ordinary councillor.

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