IFP promises more protests after mayor suspended

Mhlaba Memela

Mhlaba Memela

Defiant Inkatha Freedom Party supporters yesterday staged a protest march against the suspension of local mayor Mabhuntana Khoza, bringing the small town of Utrecht in KwaZulu-Natal to a standstill.

The marchers demanded to know why provincial MEC for local government, housing and traditional affairs Mike Mabuyakhulu "intervened in IFP-held municipalities only".

They gave Mabuyakhulu an ultimatum of seven days to respond to their grievances, failing which they promised to mobilise their members to protest against "corrupt ANC-held municipalities".

They accused him of being soft on ANC-led municipalities which were also plagued by allegations of corruption and maladministration.

Mabuyakhulu suspended Khoza and four senior officials, including municipal manager Velaphi Kubheka, for failing to account for R1 million.

The rural municipality has an annual budget of R20million.

Forensic investigations were apparently conducted into the affairs of Utrecht and a report was given to the municipality.

The municipality was expected to respond within 21 days, but it failed to do so, prompting Mabuyakhulu to take over its executive powers.

The IFP lost the municipality to the ANC after councillor Jabulani Msibi was appointed acting mayor and speaker this week. The IFP's attempts to protest against Msibi's appointment were apparently in vain.

IFP councillors even walked out of three council meetings after questioning the legality of appointing an acting mayor while the incumbent, Khoza, was still suspended.

Mabuyakhulu then appointed Thando Tubane as acting municipal manager on a consultancy basis. The IFP objected and demanded he be removed.

In a memorandum, the IFP said they were totally against "the arbitrary action taken by Mabuyakhulu against the IFP-led municipality".

"We call on Mabuyakhulu to reverse his decision to appoint Tubane. He must also act against ANC-led municipalities implicated in corruption and maladministration."