DA wants premier and Cogta MEC to intervene at uMngeni

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Protesters block the uMngeni Municipality's offices in Howick.
Protesters block the uMngeni Municipality's offices in Howick.
Moeketsi Mamane

The DA wants KZN Premier Sihle Zikalala and Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) MEC Sipho Hlomuka to intervene in the protest action in uMngeni Municipality.

For almost three weeks, a group of protesters dressed in ANC regalia have blockaded the entrance to the municipal offices in Howick, preventing staff from being able to deliver services to local residents.

“Rotting domestic refuse is lining our streets and creating an unnecessary and extra health hazard during the Covid-19 pandemic,” councillor Janis Holmes, DA caucus leader for uMngeni, said.

“Licensing and finance offices are closed to both staff and the public and our libraries, which had just reopened after several months, are closed again.

“The stress, frustration and loss that this is causing uMngeni residents and ratepayers has led to widespread talk of rates and service payment boycotts, both of which would plunge the municipality into crisis.”

“uMngeni residents do not deserve to suffer any further, especially as this matter appears to be caused by factional infighting within the governing party.”
DA councillor Janis Holmes

Holmes said requests made to the mayor of uMngeni, Sizwe Sokhela, and the municipal management asking them to let residents know what is happening and when services are likely to resume, have fallen on deaf ears.

Calls to hold a special council meeting to address the grievances raised by the protesters have also been ignored.

The protesters accuse the municipality of corruption and nepotism, and some former Expanded Public Works Programmed (EPWP) staff, whose contracts were terminated, want full-time jobs.

The DA believes the municipality should be placed under administration by the premier and Cogta MEC.

The party has given the provincial leadership a deadline of November 13 (Friday) to take action, saying that if they fail to do so, they will approach the National Council of Provinces and seek further legal advice to bring an end to the protest action.

“Roads repairs, replacement of old infrastructure, housing delivery, meter reading, and other services, such as rates clearance certificates and building inspectorate related issues, have all but collapsed or come to a standstill,” Holmes said.

ALSO READ | Union calls for Zikalala to intervene at City Hall.

The ANC’s provincial leadership visited the municipality last week to try and resolve the issue.

While the municipal manager, Thembeka Cibane, has reportedly been suspended, the protests have not stopped.

“uMngeni residents do not deserve to suffer any further, especially as this matter appears to be caused by factional infighting within the governing party,” said Holmes.

Senzelwe Mzila, the spokesperson for KZN Cogta, said Hlomuka was currently speaking to the management at uMngeni in an attempt to resolve the crisis. The Witness approached the premier’s office for comment, but at the time of going to press none had been received.

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