South Africa: The scenes that took place yesterday in Nongoma are an affront to democracy in the province. The illegal efforts by people wearing IFP regalia who tried to stop the council sitting in this municipality are shameful and deserve widespread condemnation, especially considering that this sitting was in line with the powers given to the Cogta MEC in terms of Section 29(1A) of the Municipal Structures Act.
The Act gives the MEC the power to delegate someone to convene a council meeting under certain conditions. In the Nongoma instance, these conditions were met since the petitioners followed all the correct processes to request for the Speaker and Municipal Manager to call the sitting, which did not yield a positive outcome.
The amendment to the Structures Act allows the councillors to petition the MEC for the designation of a person who would convene a council sitting.
We urge law enforcement agencies to act without fear or favour in apprehending the perpetrators of this blatant Act of criminality, which we saw yesterday when officials and councillors were threatened by a mob attempting to prevent the meeting from convening, said MEC.
The department is also expecting the municipality to supply video footage to help law enforcement agencies identify the people who dumped sand at the gates of the municipality with the aim of barring access to the municipality.
Furthermore, MEC said, “We also want all the parties in the council to distance themselves from these illegal actions.”
The conduct displayed by these elements is strongly condemned by the department; the work of the council is sacrosanct and should be respected by all. As the Executive Authority, my obligations are to act within the ambit of the law.
The accusations by the IFP that we acted unlawfully by designating someone to convene the council meetings in Nongoma and Maphumulo are baseless and show a lack of understanding of the law that governs the functioning of municipalities, said MEC.
The department is willing to defend itself and its decisions in any court of law as they relate to this matter.
Ms Bongi Sithole Moloi concluded by saying, “We also appeal to Mayors and Speakers to attend workshops that have been convened by the department together with Salga with the aim of educating councillors about legislation that is pertinent to running municipalities.”