Motion to dissolve eThekwini Council fails

Councilor Visvin Reddy during the eThekwini Council meeting at the ICC. Photographer: Khaya Ngwenya/ Independent Newspapers

Councilor Visvin Reddy during the eThekwini Council meeting at the ICC. Photographer: Khaya Ngwenya/ Independent Newspapers

Published Feb 15, 2024


Durban — There was disappointment from the opposition in eThekwini after what they termed “a rare opportunity to reset the municipal council” failed on Wednesday.

The DA in the eThekwini Municipality had proposed a motion to dissolve the City council, but it was unsuccessful and the party said it was disappointed.

DA eThekwini executive committee member Yogis Govender said community services were fraught with failures, from basic grass cutting to polluted beaches, and there was a decline in tourism resulting in poor economic development and disinvestments.

Govender also touched on water losses, erroneous billing, property rates problems and a housing backlog that led to an influx of informal settlements.

DA eThekwini councillor Mzamo Billy said the party had been fighting on its own against a captured opposition, loyal to their stomachs and to the different factions of the ANC and not to the people who voted for them.

“This became very clear in 2021 at the inaugural meeting of this council when some small and mostly one-man opposition parties sold their votes to the ANC, when in fact the voters had presented us with a chance to remove the ANC, once and for all,” Billy said. DA executive member Thabani Mthethwa said the motion was not tabled to score political points.

“We are called upon to ask ourselves a simple question, are the citizens of this city getting what they deserve and pay for? Are the citizens of this city getting value for money in terms of basic services? If we are all honest, the answer to the above question is an emphatic no,” he said.

Mthethwa said attempts to get the national the other spheres of government to intervene through enabling pieces of legislation had failed.

eThekwini Council meeting at the ICC. Photographer: Khaya Ngwenya/ Independent Newspapers

“ActionSA heeded the call made by the DA to support its motion, driven by our shared concerns regarding the municipality’s consistent failure to deliver acceptable administrative services, manage finances effectively, and deliver satisfactory services to eThekwini residents,” said Zwakele Mncwango, ActionSA KZN premier candidate.

“While we stand in solidarity with the principles behind the motion, it is important to highlight our reservations about its feasibility. We have been vocal about the unlikely success of the motion due to the DA’s perceived arrogance and lack of seriousness in pursuing genuine change in the municipality.

“Additionally, the DA’s failure to engage with all political parties within the municipality, including the EFF, further undermined the potential success of the motion,” Mncwango said.

IFP exco member councillor Mdu Nkosi said citizens and investors were not happy in eThekwini.

“We need to think about the situation. There are problems everywhere.”

ANC councillors Thanduxolo Sabelo and Nkosenhle Madlala said the DA wasted taxpayers’ money by calling for the special meeting. They said the ANC provides services to the people.

Active Citizens Coalition (ACC) councillor Mohammed Ismail said he was astonished by the motion because the movements of ratepayers’ associations were plagued by service delivery complaints that are ostensibly in DA-run wards, speaking directly to the DA’s incapacity to deliver services. Ismail said the motion created a spurious impression of service delivery.

“We as the ACC have noticed the DA’s attitude to always point fingers at smaller parties whenever they do not support a motion that is brought by the DA. We must be clear as the ACC, that we do not toe any line within this council, and we will deal with matters item by item in the interest of the constituency of eThekwini and not to provide support to a clear political agenda,” Ismail said.

Minority Front councillor Sunitha Maharaj labelled it as a day of shame when the official opposition with a so-called team of dedicated ward councillors, having access to all the City’s officials, can throw in the towel just two years into office.

Maharaj said the DA was misleading the residents that smaller parties like the MF, with only one councillor, were part of the top decision-making committee. Maharaj said that with the water crisis, the municipality cannot afford the DA’s solution to dissolve the council.

Maharaj said that the DA, with the other bigger parties, sits in exco, the top decision-making committee, trying to find solutions but they had failed the residents dismally.

eThekwini Council meeting at the ICC. Photographer: Khaya Ngwenya/ Independent Newspapers

People’s Freedom Party councillor Mohamed Tariq said dissolving the council has immense consequences for residents and it was important that councillors carefully consider the impact of such a drastic measure. He added that the current challenges stem from systemic issues, beyond the purview of the eThekwini council.

Tariq said the root causes of the challenges the city faces are multifaceted and require a co-ordinated, national-level and provincial response, not the dissolution of a municipal council.

He said dissolving the council would disrupt the democratic process, and deprive citizens of their fundamental right to vote.

Adec leader Visvin Reddy felt that the DA was misleading residents by claiming that the dissolution of the council would put an end to ANC rule.

“On the contrary, the MEC responsible for the appointment of administrators is an ANC appointee, and thus the council will still be under ANC’s control. The DA is using this motion as an opportunity for the ANC to take full control of eThekwini Municipality with no oversight from other political parties,” Reddy said.

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