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Battle between the IFP and ANC for the control of Mtubatuba Municipality has left it with a leadership vacuum

Cogta MEC Sipho Hlomuka’s decision to challenge IFP officials election to power in Mtubatuba left the council with leadership vacuum.

Cogta MEC Sipho Hlomuka’s decision to challenge IFP officials election to power in Mtubatuba left the council with leadership vacuum.

Published Jan 21, 2022

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DURBAN - THE INKATHA Freedom Party in Mtubatuba Municipality has accused the ANC of violating a court order by claiming to be in control of the municipality.

The high court judgment temporarily set aside the election of IFP officials that were elected at a council meeting that sat last week.

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This comes after Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs MEC Sipho Hlomuka filed court papers on Tuesday on an urgent basis asking the court to set aside the election of IFP officials and to declare last week’s council meeting illegal.

Sixteen ANC councillors and four from other small parties which included the NFP and the UDM, boycotted the meeting.

Hlomuka also asked the court to reinstate the ANC officials that were elected at the inaugural council meeting in November last year. The matter was heard in the Pietermaritzburg High Court on Wednesday.

On Thursday the ANC and IFP clashed outside the municipal offices after ANC mayor Mbongeleni Gina and speaker Dipuo Ntuli arrived and demanded to get into their offices, claiming the court order had reinstated them.

IFP local leader Killer Mkhwanazi said their understanding was that the court set aside the council meeting that elected its officials, which the party welcomed, but at the same time, the court did not reinstate the ANC leadership.

He explained that initially, when the judge ordered IFP mayor Mxolisi Mthethwa and speaker Sibongile Shezi not to perform their duties, it had reinstated Gina and Ntuli but after IFP counsel challenged that, the judge erased the paragraph that the reinstated ANC leaders and said everyone should wait until Wednesday.

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Mkhwanazi said their councillors went to the municipality to ensure that the court order was respected.

“We have accepted the court judgment that temporarily set aside the election of our officials, who were elected at a council meeting that sat last week. According to our understanding, the court judgment is clear that there is no mayor or speaker in the municipality until all parties come back to court to argue whether the temporary order should be made permanent or not. The ANC failed to interpret the order correctly.”

Part of the court order. | Supplied

In the court order, which the Daily News has seen, the court interdicted the IFP leaders from performing their duties.

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The paragraph which reinstated ANC leaders back to their positions as per the outcome of the inaugural council meeting in November was scratched out with a pen. The ruling further urged all parties to come back on Wednesday for further arguments on why the interim order should not be granted.

Legal expert Mpumelelo Zikalala said the IFP’s interpretation that the court did not reinstate anyone was correct because the paragraph which was reinstating the previous leadership had been cancelled. However, ANC regional secretary Thobelani Ncamphalala and speaker Dipuo said as far as they knew, the order reinstated the previous leadership.

Cogta spokesperson Senzo Mzila said “the department still stands by its earlier statement that the court put back the leadership that was elected on 23 November”.

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