The district of Matatiele moved a step closer to being permanently incorporated into Eastern Cape after the KwaZulu-Natal legislature in Pietermaritzburg on Wednesday voted by a narrow margin in favour of the controversial Constitution 13th Amendment Bill.
Heated debate between opposition parties and the ruling African National Congress preceded the vote on the bill as well as a vote on a Democratic Alliance-sponsored amendment proposing that the Maluti and Matatiele districts be incorporated into KwaZulu-Natal.
The bill was opposed by all the opposition parties - the DA, the United Democratic Movement, the African Christian Democratic Party, the Minority Front and the Inkatha Freedom Party.
The ANC garnered 40 votes to the combined opposition's 36 votes.
Three members of the legislature were absent and a simple majority meant the speaker Willies Mchunu did not have to cast a deciding vote.
The same ANC majority also opposed the amendment submitted by the DA's caucus leader Roger Burrows that the Maluti and Matatiele districts be incorporated into KwaZulu-Natal.
When the results were announced in the legislature, shouts of "Sell-out!" came from opposition members.
The bill will be sent to the National Council of Provinces for final approval.
Approval of the bill followed heated debate earlier in the morning as well as two well attended public hearings in Matatiele on Monday and last Thursday.
The IFP's George Mari told the legislature 5685 signatures against Matatiele's incorporation had been received by the portfolio committee for local government.
"It is a day that the ANC betrayed its own supporters.
"What type of government will not listen to its people? The ANC's betrayal must be seen as political gerrymandering," he said. - Sapa