KwaZulu-Natal opposition parties yesterday accused the ruling ANC of ignoring the wishes of the residents of Matatiele and forging ahead with the district's incorporation into the Eastern Cape.
The DA accused the ANC of "totally ignoring the wishes of the people of Matatiele Maluti", while an IFP statement described recent public hearings on the incorporation as "a farce".
The criticisms came shortly after the conclusion of a KwaZulu-Natal provincial local government portfolio committee deadlocked along party lines on the controversial Constitution 13th Amendment Bill.
The five ANC members of the committee voted in favour of the bill while the opposition parties - three IFP members, one DA member and one UDM member - voted against the bill.
The chairman of the committee, the ANC's Mbuso Khubeka, cast the deciding vote in favour of the bill.
The portfolio committee meeting yesterday followed public hearings on Tuesday when more than 3000 people converged on the Matatiele Stadium to air their views.
IFP local government spokesman Bonga Mdletshe said: "The message of the public hearings is clear. The majority of the people of Matatiele want to stay in KwaZulu-Natal and reject the demarcation legislation which is consigning them to the Eastern Cape."
He accused the ANC of having already decided the region's fate before the public hearings.
"What is the point of going to the trouble and expense of public hearings when the ruling party has already made up its mind and when it will disregard the outcome anyway?" DA caucus leader Roger Burrows said.
Today, the KwaZulu-Natal legislature will vote on the bill.
The DA, the IFP and the UDM are all expected to vote against the bill. The ruling ANC is expected to vote in favour of the bill as is the Minority Front.
It is not clear whether the African Christian Democratic Party and the National Democratic Convention will support the bill. -Sapa