Slain councillors’ positions remain vacant

2018-05-18 06:00

IT has been almost a year since the former Umzimkhulu Municipality speaker died, however, his position still has not been filled.

Umzimkhulu mayor Mphuthumi Mpabanga and opposition parties said that this was concerning.

The post became vacant after former speaker Khaya Thobela was killed in April last year.

Mpabanga confirmed the vacant post saying that the municipality was not functioning well as a result.

Mpabanga said that duties of the speaker were now handled by somebody else from the municipality.

“During council sittings, we elect someone to act as the speaker for that day and sometimes assign the person to do the speaker’s responsibilities to avoid disorder,” said Mpabanga.

Mpabanga said that the duty of the speaker is vital in the municipality.

Democratic Alliance (DA) MPL, Francois Rodgers said that the party was concerned about the vacant position of the speaker.

“The position has remained vacant for far too long. The ANC is using local government as a political playground, settling scores and driving party factions.

Last week the DA proposed a candidate for the speaker, which was seconded, however, the ANC declined to nominate a candidate and the matter was dismissed by the ANC,” said Rodgers.

Umzimkhulu is an ANC led municipality and Mpabanga said it is up to the ANC to elect the new speaker. Last year, the municipality was apparently covered by a “dark cloud” because four council members died in the space of five months. After Thobela was murdered in April, a public relations councillor and a Ward 4 ANC member in Umzimkhulu, Mduduzi Tshibase was also gunned down in June.

Also in June, councillor Florence Nene from local Economic Development, Planning and Infrastructure died in a car accident. Finally, in September former ANCYL secretary-general councillor Sindiso Magaqa, was shot dead.

Tshibase, Nene and Magaqa’s seats are also still vacant in council. Mpabanga said that there was no way the municipality could fill the positions without deployment from the ANC. Harry Gwala ANC regional secretary, Cindy Msomi confirmed the vacant posts but refused to comment saying that provincial leadership of the ANC must respond.

EFF Harry Gwala District councillor, Linda Mbele, called for the municipality to be dissolved and go for by-elections.

Mbele said that service delivery was very poor in the municipality because there was no speaker.

Numerous calls were made to Sihle Zikalala from provincial ANC to obtain comment, however, none were forthcoming at the time of going to print.

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