Nongoma – The Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) held a special meeting today with councillors from the Nongoma Local Municipality to address the recent judgment issued by the Pietermaritzburg High Court regarding the leadership dispute affecting the municipality.
Acting Judge Mathenjwa of the Pietermaritzburg High Court rendered a judgment on 15 June, dismissing an application by the Nongoma Municipality and relevant parties seeking to invalidate the election of office bearers during a special council sitting. We had convened this council meeting, in accordance with the powers granted to MEC for Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs under Section 29(1)(a) of the Municipal Structures Act.
During the special meeting, to which we had delegated the Head of Department, Mr Thando Tubane, on Thursday, we informed the councillors that the department had reinstated the Office Bearers elected at the Special Council Sitting, as mandated by the court’s judgment. We did this after the court discharged the interdict that had prevented the elected Office Bearers from assuming their duties.
Additionally, the members of Council were informed that the department had notified the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) of the latest court ruling on the matter.
We would like to emphasise that the department has followed all due legal processes throughout the matter which is why we were not surprised by at the outcome.
We are always reluctant to resort to the courts to resolve matters because we believe that court processes are costly and time-consuming while many issues can be resolved amicably when due process is followed within the ambits of the law. However, when we are dragged to the courts, this leaves us without any choice but to defend our actions as we want to ensure that the rule of law prevails. It is sad that not all of our leaders particularly in municipalities subscribe to these principles.
We informed the Council members that the department had received court papers indicating that the Nongoma Municipality had been granted leave to appeal the recent ruling. However, we stressed that the appeal would have no bearing on the ruling made recently, and therefore, the newly reinstated leadership has to assume their responsibilities while the outcome of the appeal is pending. Our biggest obsession is delivery of services to the people of Nongoma without any further delay. We also urge all leaders to also remember the primary reason for them to be part of the council in the first place.
Moreover, this judgment serves as a reminder to all parties that court processes should not be exploited to bypass democratic procedures. The Department remains fully committed to working alongside all municipalities and fulfilling its mandate impartially. We encourage political parties to explore all available avenues to resolve their differences and avoid resorting to court processes to circumvent democratic procedures.
We believe in fostering a culture of tolerance, cooperation, and respect among all stakeholders. We therefore call upon the political parties within the Nongoma Local Municipality to put aside their differences and work collaboratively for the benefit of the community they serve.
Issued by the MEC for Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs in KwaZulu-Natal, Bongiwe Sithole-Moloi.