/ 8 February 2013

Dlamini-Zuma report: Report puts KZN councillors in firing line

Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma's report into violations of the list process leading up to the 2011 local government elections recommends councillors' removal and the holding of by-elections.
Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma's report into violations of the list process leading up to the 2011 local government elections recommends councillors' removal and the holding of by-elections.

Powerbrokers in influential ANC regions in KwaZulu-Natal are likely to face the chop as councillors if the recommendations of the report compiled by current African Union chairperson Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma are acted upon.

Dlamini-Zuma's report was initiated by ANC President Jacob Zuma to investigate allegations of irregularities in the list processes for councillors leading up to 2011 local-government elections. The ANC had opened up nominations to broader communities, rather than just party members, for the first time.

ANC members under threat include eThekwini regional treasurer Zandile Gumede, the councillor in the city's ward 53, who is considered a force in the province. Political heavyweight and uMgungundlovu regional chairperson Alpha Shelembe was accused of interfering in the processes of ward 18 in uMsunduzi (Pietermaritzburg) to ensure that his personal assistant was voted in at branch general meeting to elect candidates to run for councillor positions. It is unclear what sanction he will face, if any.

ANC provincial spokesperson, Senzo Mkhize, said the provincial executive committee had "accepted" the report at a recent meeting and had set up a task team consisting of national executive committee deployees to KwaZulu-Natal and members of the provincial executive to "start a process of consultation" regarding the report.

He said the task team, headed by Joe Phaahla from the party's national executive committee and provincial deputy chairperson Willies Mchunu, would consider what procedures to follow in relation to the report's recommendations, also in regard to ANC members who were not councillors, but who were fingered for alleged wrongdoing by the report.

The Dlamini-Zuma report, which the Mail & Guardian has a copy of, recommends that some measures to be applied to councillors – usually that they be removed and by-elections be held – but, in many instances, does not go any further.

Zandile Gumede, together with municipal housing committee chairperson Nigel Gumede, are said to wield considerable power in eThekwini, the party's largest region in the country. The report recommended that Zandile Gumede be "removed [as councillor] and that the process be redone".

According to the task team, it had been notified "that there were problems in the list processes as some members were intimidated in meetings". The report found that "there were conflicts revolving around the ward councillor … [who was] accused of murder and fuels tensions and divisions in the ward [sic]. Tensions are high ever since one of the complainants was shot." And Gumede was accused of living in a ward outside the one she represents.

ANC KwaZulu-Natal spokesperson Bongani Mthembu denied allegations that the report might be used in the power battles expected to commence now that nominations had opened to fill the provincial chairperson vacancy created at the ANC's national general conference in December last year, where incumbent Zweli Mkhize was voted in as the party's national treasurer.

Mthembu dismissed claims that people like Gumede and Shelembe might not face full disciplinary procedure because of the power they wielded and the votes they could deliver to an aspirant chairman. The contest for the chairmanship is understood to be between Willies Mchunu and current provincial education minister Senzo Mchunu.  

According to the report, the "majority of the [30 disputes investigated in KwaZulu-Natal] related to alleged irregularities and manipulation of the list processes by branch and regional leaders in certain cases and general organisational issues such as gatekeeping, bulk-buying of membership and sidelining of members".

In Ward 12 in KwaDengezi, complaints included allegations that the ward councillor was selling government houses and that "cases of corruption and killing of people in their ward were brought to the police, the police never did anything about the reported cases". The task team recommended that Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa "facilitate investigations of killings in that ward".

In Shelembe's case, allegations include that his bodyguards beat up "a comrade who was raising a query" during the branch meeting in ward 18 in uMsunduzi and that he "manipulated the list process in the branch and he did not dispute the allegations when his attention was brought to this". The task team recommended that the process be redone and that "Shelembe should not participate in these processes".

Nkosazana-Dlamini's report investigated 419 disputes around the country and recommended that processes be redone in 125 of these cases. At the bare minimum, councillors will be recalled and by-elections held in the affected wards.

KwaZulu-Natal appears fastest out the blocks in dealing with matter.

In North West province, ANC spokesperson Kenny Morolong said the provincial executive committee would meet "in the next few days" to discuss the report for the first time.

In the Western Cape, two Cape Town ward councillors in Gugulethu township, Mzwakhe Nqavashe and Coetzee Ntotoviyane, are likely to face disciplinary action.

Limpopo ANC spokesperson, advocate Mathivha Makondelele, said the province had  "accepted" the report and was initiating a process to deal with the recommendations.