Furore over City speaker

2017-10-26 14:10
Opposition question whether Ngubo was really sick or gagged as she arrives late.

Opposition question whether Ngubo was really sick or gagged as she arrives late. (File)

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Is she really sick or is the voice of City’s speaker being hushed?

That was the burning question after ANC councillors prevented Msunduzi Speaker Jabu Ngubo from presiding over Wednesday’s full council sitting.

Ngubo, who arrived at the sitting despite ANC Chief Whip Truman Magubane claiming she was sick, was not allowed to preside over the sitting. ANC councillors instead insisted on nominating an acting speaker.

The sitting took a dramatic turn upon Ngubo’s surprise arrival, with opposition parties insisting she then take her seat as speaker — a suggestion that was shot down by the ruling party members. They had already elected mayor Themba Njilo to act as speaker for the sitting.

Democratic Alliance caucus leader Sibongiseni Majola protested, saying an acting speaker was only nominated if the speaker was not available.

“The speaker must chair the meeting. She is here and she must occupy her seat as per the regulations of council. The resistance from the ruling party members is an indication of truth in the speculation that the ANC caucus does not have trust in the speaker anymore,” said Majola, to loud agreement from the opposition benches.

Majola said his statement was in reference to section five of the Municipalities Act, which he said clearly states that an acting speaker can only be nominated if the speaker is absent.

He later said Wednesday’s turn of events was a sign that the “apology” read out in the meeting was not conveyed by Ngubo.

“If the apology came from Ngubo it would have clearly stated that she would be late. It’s not the first time that this has happened. There has been a number of instances where the speaker was either late or she excused herself from the meetings.”

The opposition parties unanimously said that they would not be a part of the ruling party’s plans to axe Ngubo.

Majola’s statement during council was interrupted by Magubane, who insisted that despite the speaker’s presence, she was still sick.

“Madam speaker told us that she was not feeling well. Her presence here is just a sign of her dedication towards council. She must be commended for being present at the meeting,” he said.

Sandile Shange of the Economic Freedom Fighters asked that the speaker be allowed to speak for herself.

“She is not an ancestor. She can speak for herself. She is here and maybe she can tell us why she won’t take the seat,” he said.

Shange added that if Ngubo was not feeling well she would have stayed at home.

“She would have requested a day off if she was not feeling well like you say. Now that she is here she must take her seat.”

While the furore over who should chair the meeting continued for over an hour, Ngubo was sitting quietly and busy on her cellphone.

After being outvoted on the matter, opposition parties staged a walkout, leaving the ANC to continue the sitting.

Speaking to The Witness after the meeting, Ngubo refused to comment on the rumours that the ANC leadership had told her that her services were no longer required.

“As far as I understand, issues of deployment and recalling are only discussed with the affected person. They don’t go to the media without the affected person being notified.

“The fact that I know nothing about this one confirms that it is not true,” she said.

She vehemently denied any knowledge of a meeting where she was told to resign.

“The two meetings may have been held but it is not true that the issue of recalling the speaker was discussed. It was never on the agenda.”

Ngubo said that she had put in a notice of unavailability for Wednesday’s meeting.

“I requested that a caretaker speaker be appointed as per rules of order. I was not going to be at the meeting at the time but I decided to come in late,” she said.

However, opposition parties are convinced that Ngubo is being forced to resign by the ruling party amid rumours of a rift between herself and senior leaders of the ANC in the Moses Mabhida Region.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  council meeting

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