Council meeting fails — again

2019-07-03 16:10

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The time has come for disciplinary action against disobedient Msunduzi councillors.

After yet another full council meeting collapsed on Tuesday due to the failure to meet the quorum, political parties and Msunduzi’s speaker Jabu Ngubo made it clear that enough is enough.

Fed up with councillors’ careless and disrespectful attitude to council meetings, Ngubo has instructed the whips of their respective parties to “deal with them”.

The City’s new administrator, Sibusiso Sithole, said the consequence of the collapse of the past two meetings is that councillors cannot go on their annual July recess as a council resolution on the dates and period (of the recess) was still outstanding.

Tuesday’s special meeting was called when last week’s meeting was cancelled because councillors deemed it illegal, as they had not received notices and agendas in line with council’s rules of order.

Ngubo was visibly upset by the “perpetual latecoming” and Tuesday’s mass absence across political parties, with some councillors not even bothering to send apologies.

“This is a serious indication of the lack of commitment on our part as councillors and it’s an embarrassment, and nobody is going to cry foul here because this meeting was announced in this chamber when the last one was cancelled.”

She said notices for the meeting were also sent out on Wednesday so councillors had no excuse not to attend.

“This is not a place for celebrities, it’s a place for disciplined people who know why they are here.”

Ngubo said she was not going to beg councillors to do what they were paid for so the whips for each political party must deal with them and report to their leadership as well.

“The political parties that deployed you must know that this is what you are doing when you are supposed to be working for the people,” Ngubo told councillors.

When the former MEC for Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) Nomusa Dube-Ncube placed Msunduzi under administration in April, she said one of the reasons for intervention was due to the municipality’s inability “to hold its councillors accountable for deliberately absenting themselves from critical meetings and thus collapsing the quorum and rendering the council dysfunctional”.

The Witness previously reported on how the mass absences crippled service delivery and delayed the disciplinary process of the suspended City boss, Sizwe Hadebe.

DA veteran Bill Lambert said what happened yesterday could push Cogta to review the Section 139(b) intervention and dissolve the council.

“We’ve now gone to an almost intolerable situation. This is not acceptable … Even when we were under administration the last time, this did not happen.

“This is a terrible indictment on all of us. I’m ashamed to be part of what has happened this morning.”

He was heckled by the ANC councillors when he blamed the ruling party for failing to govern the province’s capital.

“This is exactly the problem, you do not want to listen,” Lambert fired back.

Councillors across political parties called on Ngubo to discipline their colleagues who deliberately sabotaged the council meetings’ quorum by either coming in late or not arriving at all.

ANC’s Linda Madlala said there were known culprits so the chief whip, Truman Magubane, must also deal with them.

He said their behaviour inconvenienced the entire council.

His colleague Mtuza Mkhize said constantly cancelling meetings was not in the interests of the people of Msunduzi as it impacted negatively on service delivery.

ACDP councillor Rienus Niemand said the rules of order were clear on the speaker’s powers and she should start exercising them.

“Employ disciplinary action. Not one person has ever been disciplined in the last few years, for non-attendance or coming late. We’ve created an atmosphere of opportunity — you can do what you like because you can get away with it.”

He said he would support the dissolution of council because the City did not deserve “delinquent councillors”.

DA caucus leader Sibongiseni Majola said it was about time Cogta invoked Section 139(c) because the efforts by the administrator, Sithole, to turn the City around would be frustrated if he had to work with the current council.

“It’s clear that that some of our colleagues are not even slightly ashamed of the current state of our City and its finances.

“There is a lack of political will to do things the right way in order to ensure that Msunduzi is a municipality that works for its people.

“The dissolution of council is long overdue and the people of Msunduzi have exhausted their patience with us. The scary part is that even business has exhausted its patience and some are slowly leaving this City, which will result in job losses,” said Majola.

He said the DA was eager to see Sithole’s turnaround strategy so that they could see how its councillors can support him.


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