death threats

Sicelo Dladla

Sicelo Dladla

Imbabazane Municipality, which falls under the uThukela district, has been forced to arrange a 24-hour security for its municipal manager and the speaker after they received death threats.

The municipality appointed the manager, Bongiwe Mnikathi, two weeks ago during a meeting led by speaker Shokwakhe Mbatha, who is also an IFP councillor.

Mnikathi and Mbatha said they were constantly receiving death threats on their phones and from people walking in the street.

"I have appealed for private security to protect me. I need it urgently," said Mnikathi.

She said her office was stormed by IFP members last Thursday - five days after she started her new job.

"They demanded that I vacate my post to allow a person employed by the mayor, Hlanganani Dlamini, to take over. Dlamini is also an IFP councillor.

"They said they wanted me and Mbatha dead. They stoned the office, destroying property in the process," she added.

Both Mnikathi and Mbatha blame the mayor for the crisis.

"He (Dlamini) took some candidates to town where he interviewed them with his friends. He then came back to impose his person on us, which is not going to happen. He does not have the authority to hire staff," said Mbatha.

He said the council would arrange private security for Mnikathi, while his own security had been doubled from one to two.

Dlamini rejected that his hiring a manager was illegal. "As the mayor, I have the right to hire a manager, not the speaker."

The IFP provincial leadership is concerned about the growing conflict. Yesterday they called a meeting of the provincial oversight committee to discuss ways of calming down the tensions that are dividing their membership.

"We will be addressing the infighting at this meeting. We will also meet our leadership in the area to resolve the conflict. Our deadline for resolving the conflict and uniting our party is seven days."

More trouble is expected today as the mayor wants his preferred candidate to start work as soon as possible.

Dlamini said he had called a council meeting to approve the name of a person he had recommended to take over as the manager.

"I cannot comment on what would happen to Mnikathi as I have taken the speaker and councillors who hired her to the Pietermaritzburg high court.

"We should wait for the outcome of that process," Dlamini said.