'I gave directive to suspend Dlamini'

Sicelo Dladla

Sicelo Dladla

KwaZulu-Natal MEC for local government Mike Mabuyakhulu said yesterday he gave a personal directive for the suspension of Hlanganani Dlamini, the mayor of Imbabazane municipality in the uThukela district on Monday.

He said Dlamini was suspended for allegedly inciting people to protest against the hiring of municipal manager Bongiwe Mnikathi.

She had been hired by speaker Shokwakhe Mbatha.

"I sent a directive to the council headed by the speaker to suspend the mayor after it became clear to me, based on information from a team sent to investigate, that the mayor was the main perpetrator of the violent protest that resulted in the destruction of government property," he said.

The charges against Dlamini stem from an incident early this month when a group of IFP supporters, wearing party T-shirts and armed with sticks, pangas, knobkerries and stones, marched on the municipal offices and demanded that Mnikathi and Mbatha vacate their jobs.

The building and some equipment were damaged.

He said instead of the mayor calling for police intervention, he allegedly addressed the "illegal" protesters.

"Dlamini is suspended pending the formulation of charges against him and the outcome of a disciplinary hearing to be instituted," Mabuyakhulu. said.

"If he is cleared he will come back as the mayor."

He said Mbatha had taken over the role of overseeing the whole municipality, including the mayor's duties.

The IFP-led municipality is embroiled in an internal conflict because Mbatha appointed Mnikathi.

The IFP will this week take disciplinary action against Mbatha on the grounds that it was not his place to make appointments.

That role, it said, was reserved for the mayor.

But according to Mabuyakhulu, Mbatha's actions were "legitimate" since the Municipal Systems Act specifies that the council, chaired by the speaker, is the highest decision-making body.

"The mayor can only appoint a manager for the municipality if the council delegates such powers to him, which did not happen in Imbabazane," Mabuyakhulu said.

"The council delegated such powers to the speaker, making it legal for him to hire somebody for the job."