Premier cracks the whip

2014-09-29 00:00

CITY Hall’s executive council — which has failed to meet for nearly a month — was forced to convene on Friday by the premier’s office.

According to city mayor James Nxumalo, the meetings — the highest decision-making body in council ratifying anything from building approvals to tender awards — were cancelled because September had been “a busy month” for “most members of the executive” who had been away on city-related business.

But it was statements made by eThekwini’s DA chief whip Zwakhele Mncwango that led the emergency exco to turn into a shouting match between rival councillors.

He had said in the media that the failure to hold meetings was because the city lacked “leadership and planning”. Up until Friday a meeting had not been since August 28.

Deputy mayor Nomvula Shabalala, who was deeply offended by the comments, said she would “never forgive” Mncwango for questioning their commitment and credibility.

In a city statement released late on Friday afternoon, Nxumalo said the meetings were cancelled because of a visit by the National Council of Provinces (NCOP), Shabalala was hospitalised and attended meetings in Johannesburg and Cape Town, and he and councillor Nondumiso Cele were in Chicago, USA, participating in the World Routes 2014, an aviation and tourism conference which the city will host in 2015. ANC councillor Nigel Gumede admitted that if they had sat, the governing party would not have had a full quorum.

Mchunu’s spokesperson Ndabe Sibiya said, “The premier does not micromanage but he feels he must be accessible to various leadership structures. He believes there needs to be accountability for all municipalities otherwise decay can set in.”

He said Mchunu also wanted the city to meet and deal with the unrest at the Glebelands hostel in Umlazi.

“He wanted eThekwini to take a leading role on this issue. When he spoke to city officials they said they had planned to meet on Monday, but on his request they brought it forward,” said Sibiya.

Mncwango said meeting today “would have been too late” with a full council, which involves the more than 200 ward and PR councillors in the city, expected to rubber-stamp city decisions on Wednesday.


October 1, 2003: City awards the sale and operation of Durban Transport to Remant Alton Land Transport (Pty) Limited for a period of seven years. The company buys the service for R70 million and is led by controversial Durban businessman Jay Singh and the former ANC provincial treasurer Diliza Mji.

September 2008: eThekwini Municipality agrees to buy back the bus fleet for R405 million.

March 2009: Remant Alton suspended its services and declared itself technically insolvent.

June 30, 2009: Remant Alton stops operating and dismisses all its employees.

July 9, 2009: Then MEC for Transport, Community Safety and Liaison Bheki Cele and the former mayor Obed Mlaba announced Tansnat Africa — partly owned by Mandla Gcaba, a relative of President Jacob Zuma, would see the Remant contract through, ending in September 2010.

July 19, 2009: KZN bus operators successfully launched an urgent application in the Pietermaritzburg high court seeking an order to have the award of the contract to Tansnat set aside.

July 2009: The U.S. Consulate Durban informs Washington via a cable, subsequently leaked by Wikileaks, of the issues surrounding the beleaguered bus contract.

2010: Tansnat continues to operate the bus service despite the high court ruling.

January 27 2014: The city reveals Tansnat has a cashflow problem and the city had to make a “relief payment” of R8,1 million to the operator in December, when the council was in recess, or face the possibility of the service shutting down. Tansnat was at the time facing a hefty SARS bill.

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