Exchange of words in eThekwini council as dissolving ICC board comes on the agenda
Another eThekwini council meeting ended prematurely after a heated exchange between the city’s legal department head and ActionSA on the merits of debating the dissolution of the Durban International Convention Centre (ICC) board on Thursday.
ActionSA leader Zwakele Mncwango had filed a motion to disband the ICC board for not acting on the party’s recommendation to report a case of corruption against eThekwini municipality and the ANC Women’s League to the police.
The party believes the ICC colluded with the ANC-led eThekwini municipality to bill the city R5m for a Women’s Month launch which turned out to be an ANC Women's League conference from August 4 to 8.
ActionSA gave the ICC board a week from October 19 to absolve itself of any wrongdoing by opening a criminal case against the city.
The board did not heed to the request, prompting the party to table a motion for its removal on the basis that it had failed to act in the interest of residents.
The matter was meant to be heard during last week’s meeting but was moved to Thursday after that meeting also ended prematurely.
Mncwango wanted a report by the City integrity and investigations unit to be made available to councillors before the debate.
However, speaker Thabani Nyawose sought advice from the legal team on whether to commence or rule against tabling the motion.
Head of legal Melusi Mhlongo said the report has not been fully processed, and was not satisfied the motion should be considered as planned. He recommended the motion not be tabled, labelling it “immature”.
He said the board could only be disbanded by removing directors after an investigation through the Company’s Act processes it through the Systems Act.
“There are processes that are outstanding against the background of the fact that the report has not been processed yet. For instance, if we were satisfied there was nothing against the board it would’ve been competent to deal with this notice of motion. The motion is premature to be considered at this point in my view.”
Mncwango disagreed, saying there was nothing stopping council from debating the notion and making a decision and then have the executive committee look at the issues raised by legal and come report to council.
“What we can do as councillors is that any councillor can amend the motion, not legal. Nothing stops us from debating and voting on the motion and then other processes can ensue because the motion is not saying the board is disbanded immediately.
“The issue raised here can be addressed by the Exco. I'm appealing to the speaker to allow the motion to be debated, voted on and let the Exco investigate the things raised by legal.”
Mncwango said councillors were being “ambushed” by the legal department which was trying to “protect certain individuals.”
Mhlongo took offence to Mncwango’s “abusive” words.
“I’m not a politician. I’m not here to be to be abused by Mncwango. My responsibility is to guide compliance with the processes and I’ve never been found to have misled this council. I take strong exception to him insinuating I’m ambushing this council because I’m protecting some people. That is uncalled for and unwarranted and I deserve more respect.”
Speaker Thabani Nyawose ruled that, based on the explanation and guidance by legal that the motion had been submitted prematurely, it would not tabled and discussed in the meeting.
The DA's Thabani Mthethwa questioned why the motion was included in the agenda if it was not compliant.
Nyawose said: “The matter has to be considered by relevant committees, the city manager and the executive committee guided by our regulations that deal mainly with issues of senior managers.
“Therefore, I rule the motion won’t be discussed today but it will be accepted at a later stage when it complies with our rules of order.”
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