Spotlight on Msunduzi Municipality

Msunduzi municipality is situated in the province of Kwa-Zulu Natal (KZN). The capital city of Pietermaritzburg is situated within the Msunduzi municipality. The city still has reminders of its colonial past with buildings reminiscent of English architecture. It is now no longer a colonial outpost but a vibrant modern city. It is close to Durban (45 minutes drive), one hour away by road to King Shaka Airport and plays host to major international events such as the Comrades Marathon, the Duzi Marathon and the Midmar Mile amongst others. It is also steeped in cultural heritage and history and here one can walk in the footsteps of Gandhi, Mandela and Paton.

As vibrant as the city has become so too has the municipality albeit for all the wrong reasons. The first council meeting of the year was characterised by shoes being kicked off in anger, followed by a three-hour yelling period. Councilors exchanged strong views regarding the selling of prime Mountain Rose land to local business Parklane Linen for industrial purposes. At the center of the row was ANC councilor Mehmood Oumar who was called upon by the opposition to leave the chamber as he was fingered as the person behind the Parklane Linen business application. The opposition insisted that they be provided proof that Oumar declared his business interests. After much vacillating ACDP councilor Rienus Niemand demanded that the council be told “immediately” if Oumar declared his business interests. “I want answers now and not in the next meeting. The danger of leaving it for the next meeting is that it (the declaration) can be manufactured… I want to go now whichever official to see Oumar’s declaration. This house needs answers now”. Niemand demanded as the opposition parties clapped and shouted
in unison.

Msunduzi speaker, Jabu Ngubo told Niemand to either withdraw his statement that the document could be “manufactured” or leave the chamber.  Niemand refused and chose to leave.

DA caucus leader, Sibongiseni Majola requested Oumar to leave the meeting as he was directly or indirectly linked to the business. Oumar refused to leave and for two hours of heated debate, threats and mud slinging, Oumar finally recused himself. DA councilor Glen McArthur said it was common knowledge that Oumar “runs and trades” under the name of Parklane Linen and that his business wanted to purchase the residential land to build a linen factory.

Pay back the money!

Still with Msunduzi, the council wants former municipal manager Mxolisi Nkosi, to repay R10million for allegedly hiring a company unlawfully. In Pietermaritzburg high court papers in an action brought last year by the council against Nkosi, it is alleged that Moteko Cost Consultants and Project Managers were improperly and unlawfully appointed in March 2015. The papers allege that Nkosi did not follow proper procurement procedures and as a result the municipality was disadvantaged. It emerged from the papers that there was a culture of fear that was created by Nkosi in the municipality, even among senior officials. Nkosi did not tolerate dissent and gave instructions to officials to implement his decisions without question. They could not express any disagreement.

Xenophobia on social media

As we leave Msunduzi municipality and KZN, we hear that the DA’s provincial deputy leader, Mergan Chetty has come under fire for allegedly using a xenophobic slur in a recorded phone call that was leaked on social media. In a recorded phone call between Chetty and former DA councilor Lungisani Sikhakane, Chetty can be heard using the word “makwerekwere, a derogatory term for foreign nationals. Sikhakane defected from the DA to the ANC before the local government elections but is still friends with Chetty. Chetty is also a member of parliament in the National Council of Provinces. In the phone call Chetty can be heard saying, “there is life after politics. We cannot become like f***g makwerekweres and fight over stupid things all our lives.

DA provincial leader Zwakele Mncwango said that it was wrong of public representatives to use such language but questioned the timing of the release of the clip (it is an old clip) as a there is a by-election in Woodlands.

Mncwango said he had not heard the clip but said that he is sure Chetty was just joking. “I know Mergan, he is my deputy. He likes jokes” said Mncwango.

Pietermaritzburg can no longer be classified as a sleepy hollow. It is now a modern vibrant town with a vibrant
city council.

Source:  The Witness