Nkandla municipal manager refuses to walk despite court order

27 February 2019 - 15:18 By BONGANI MTHETHWA
Former president Jacob Zuma's Nkandla residence in KwaZulu-Natal. The town is in the spotlight over a fight between the IFP-controlled municipality and the ANC over the municipal manager's qualifications.
Former president Jacob Zuma's Nkandla residence in KwaZulu-Natal. The town is in the spotlight over a fight between the IFP-controlled municipality and the ANC over the municipal manager's qualifications.
Image: File photo.

The IFP-controlled municipality in former president Jacob Zuma's rural home town of Nkandla is challenging a high court decision to remove its municipal manager Langelihle Jili for not having the legally required experience.

The resolution to appeal Pietermaritzburg High Court judge Piet Koen's decision last Thursday was taken during a council meeting on Tuesday after the ANC caucus had already walked out in protest against Jili's presence.

The ANC caucus complained that they would not sit in a meeting presided by Jili after the court judgment that he be removed because he did not have suitable qualifications for the job.

Jili confirmed on Wednesday to TimesLIVE that the ANC caucus had walked out "because they wouldn't sit in a meeting presided by me." He said even before the council resolution to appeal the decision, his lawyers had already served a notice of intention to appeal the judgment.

"We served a notification for intention to appeal and you can't enforce an order when we have 15 days to appeal. The appeal will now be heard by a full bench of the Supreme Court of Appeal. The ANC should have sat and heard what the council would say about the item which was on the agenda," he said. "The municipality, council and myself are respondents in the court papers and the council resolved that it will appeal the court decision."

ANC caucus leader in the Nkandla municipality councillor Bheki Ndima said party members walked out of the council meeting because they could not have a municipality that had a municipal manager who was not qualified.

"Our argument is that there were 21 candidates who had applied for the position but they were shortlisted down to nine. Eight qualified to be appointed and he does not meet the requirements of the job, yet he got the job," Ndima said.

He said they would keep putting pressure on Jili despite the fact that he and the council had appealed the court judgment.

"We did not expect that he was going to be present at the council meeting after the court judgement and the item [about the court decision] was not on the agenda but was added as an additional item. We are going to seek legal advice on what our position would be as an ANC caucus. We will always put pressure on him."

In September last year, KwaZulu-Natal co-operative governance and traditional affairs (Cogta) MEC Nomusa Dube-Ncube went to court to challenge Jili's appointment because he did not have suitable qualifications for the job.

According to the judgment handed down on Thursday last week, he noted that, according to the Local Government Municipal Systems Act, a senior municipal manager must have at least five years' management experience. This is unless the Cogta minister allows for this requirement to be waived.

According to the court papers, Jili fell way short of this requirement, with only 13 months' experience.

Dube-Ncube hailed the judgment as a victory for good and ethical governance in municipalities.

Zuma's rural home town of Nkandla has been the subject of an intense battle for control between the ANC and IFP for a number of years. It was considered an embarrassment to the ANC that the IFP controlled the municipal structures that have authority over Zuma's homestead. 

Despite Zuma's charm and confidence ahead of the August 2016 local government elections that the ruling party would take control of the hotly contested municipality, the IFP won 15 seats in the municipality while the ANC won 12.

Zuma once joked that he wanted to run for election as ward councillor or even mayor in his home town once he retired as president.

"When I say I want to be a councillor in my ward when I take my pension, people laugh. But it is not personal – it's organisational. I was just telling someone that my ambition is to be mayor of Nkandla one day," he said during the funeral of struggle veteran Riot Mkhwanazi in KwaDlangezwa in December 2016.


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