Awol councillors roasted

2018-06-14 18:02
Speaker and Mayor have harsh words for absent members.

Speaker and Mayor have harsh words for absent members. (File)

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City councillors were roasted on Wednesday over their failure to attend to a crucial meeting and warned that their actions could result in the council being placed under administration.

It was the second time in a row that Msunduzi councillors failed to reach a quorum for a full council meeting that had to deal with a host of urgent issues.

These included a report on an investigation into corruption allegations made against the City manager, Sizwe Hadebe, and his alleged “voice note scandal”.

Visibly irritated Speaker Jabu Ngcobo did not mince her words, saying those councillors who won’t attend meetings are inviting the Department of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) to place the City under administration.

She was forced to cancel Wednesday’s meeting because they missed a quorum of 40 by just one councillor.

“We are inviting Section 139 [for a municipality to be placed under administration] because it means that the council is not functioning.”

Mayor Themba Njilo also expressed his disappointment that yet another meeting had collapsed due to a failure to meet the quorum.

“As the head of the municipality ngikhathele (I’m tired). Failing is not in my DNA so seeing that things are getting worse — it’s really getting out of hand now. After this meeting I’m going to get legal advice on what to do to get this municipality to function as expected,” he said.

Last week’s special council meeting was also cancelled when more than 32 councillors did not attend. This was repeated on Wednesday when only 39 councillors, including Ngubo, Njilo and the ANC chief whip Truman Magubane turned up.

Only 26 councillors sent their apologies out of the 42 absentees.

Ngubo said she will write to the 42 councillors who were absent “so that councillors know where we are heading to if they continue behaving like this”.

Ngubo also had harsh words for those who arrived late, saying there is no excuse for not being punctual for a meeting they have known about since last Wednesday.

“Next time we call another meeting councillors must drop everything and be here before 9 am,” she said.

ANC councillor Mtuza Mkhize proposed that Magubane be allowed an opportunity to phone the councillors who were absent and ask if they could come immediately.

This was supported by his peers across political parties but the suggestion had to be abandoned as it was in breach of the municipal rules of order.

Veteran DA councillor Bill Lambert said what is happening in Msunduzi is unprecedented.

“We’ve got a municipal manager who is more absent than he is present.

“He has not faced this city council once since that scandal of his [alleged] voice misdemeanour went viral. He is a walking disaster and he is pulling this City down,” he said.

Lambert appealed to Njilo to save Msunduzi and not to go down in history “as the mayor over the collapse of the capital city of KwaZulu-Natal”.

The DA’s Shawn Adkins described the behaviour of councillors who are deliberately not attending meetings as a disgrace. He said it showed their lack of a sense of accountability to the people of Msunduzi.

The DA also suggested that Ngubo should consider charging the councillors who were absent.

“We need to find out what is going on because maybe we now have a split council and these councillors are reporting to a different mayor and a different council,” said the IFP’s Thinasonke Ntombela.

The cancellation of Wednesday’s meeting cost Msunduzi R13 500 in wasteful expenditure as lunch for 81 councillors had already been ordered from the service providers.

As part of its cost containment strategy, Msunduzi now only caters at meetings that are expected to be more than five hours long.

Hadebe says his presence not needed

City manager Sizwe Hadebe said he did not understand the context of what Councillor Bill Lambert had said.

“I’m not a member of council and I was represented in the meeting. My absence does not dictate whether the meeting sits or not. As a senior councillor who has served many terms, he should know that.

“I personally respect councillor Lambert greatly because of the contribution he has made in the City including serving at senior levels.

“But I think that he is doing himself and his constituency disservice and threatening his legacy by throwing potshots at the administration.

“As a member of council, he’s duty bound to propose remedies in areas of concern because we all have the best interest of the city at heart.

“Instead of coming up with solutions, he involves himself in mud slinging, an act that is not befitting of his stature,” he said. 

He said Lambert understands processes that need to be followed to voice bona fide concerns and recommendations but did not follow those. 


Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  msunduzi municipality

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