Fight lawsuit against KZN leader with your own money, DA tells Cogta MEC

KwaZulu-Natal MEC Nomusa Dube-Ncube has been told to fight her personal battles using her personal funds.
KwaZulu-Natal MEC Nomusa Dube-Ncube has been told to fight her personal battles using her personal funds.
Image: Sunday Times

The DA in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) has called on provincial co-operative governance and traditional affairs (Cogta) MEC Nomusa Dube-Ncube to pay her own legal costs in her R1.5m lawsuit against the DA's provincial leader and premier candidate, Zwakele Mncwango.

The DA tabled a motion in the KZN legislature last week calling on Dube-Ncube to assure the people of the province that she would not be allowed to used public money to fund private court battles.

In a statement on Tuesday, DA deputy chief whip in the legislature Hlanganani Gumbi said Dube-Ncube was welcome to pursue the legal matter.

"However, the DA regards this litigation exercise as purely in the MEC's own personal interests and not in the public interest. She must therefore use her own privately accumulated wealth - and not that of the people of KZN - for this lawsuit. Nor should she be permitted to use funds from within her department while KZN's municipalities are collapsing all around her," said Gumbi.

In August last year, Dube-Ncube slapped Mncwango with a R1.5m lawsuit for defamation after he accused the MEC of awarding tenders worth more than R15m to Brand Partners, where her husband Sibusiso Justin Ncube is director of communications.

DA's KwaZulu-Natal leader Zwakele Mncwango.
DA's KwaZulu-Natal leader Zwakele Mncwango.

The DA vowed to defend Mncwango and indicated it would not retract the claims he made in a media statement in June last year in which he said Dube-Ncube's husband had benefited financially as a result of her actions.

In a letter to KZN premier Willies Mchunu, signed by Mncwango, the DA alleged that Dube-Ncube awarded Brand Partners a communications tender at the Nkandla municipality in December 2017 worth more than R7.5m, and called for her immediate suspension.

The DA said the other allegation of corruption against Dube-Ncube was related to Mthonjaneni municipality in Melmoth, where the party had evidence that regulation 32 was used in the appointment of Brand Partners for a series of contracts and other related services worth R8.2m.

But Dube-Ncube hit back with a lawyer's letter on July 20 last year, asking Mncwango to "unconditionally withdraw the statement and apologise for the defamatory allegations" failing which "our client would have no alternative but to take such further action as she deems appropriate".

Dube-Ncube's lawyers, PKX Attorneys, said Mncwango's statement falsely alleged that their client was involved in corrupt activities when municipalities were a separate sphere of government and she was not responsible for nor controlled the award of municipal tenders.

The lawyers said the two municipalities had confirmed that Brand Partners was appointed in accordance with regulation 32 of the municipal chain management regulation of 2005. The lawyer's letter was followed by a R1.5m lawsuit for defamation against Mncwango filed by Brand Partners on July 31 last year in the Durban High Court.

In the combined summons, the company said Mncwango's statements were "wrongful and defamatory" and made with the intention to "injure its reputation". The company said as a result of Mncwango's statement it had suffered damages to its reputation and standing in the community to the amount of R1.5m.

But Gumbi was unrepentant on Tuesday.

"The issue relates to her [Dube-Ncube] and her husband’s multimillion-rand business interests within KZN municipalities. The DA in KZN will not stand by while this scourge [of corruption] arises in every sphere, at every level of government," he said.