On several occasions to date, the IFP in the KwaZulu-Natal Legislature has repeatedly complained that the ANC government in the province is selective and abuses government power in instituting Section 106 (of the Local Government Municipal Systems Act 32 of 2000) investigations, and section 139 interventions (of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa Act 106 of 1996) in municipalities in KwaZulu-Natal.
The IFP feels vindicated by the judgment of the Pietermaritzburg High Court, delivered on 6 May 2022. In this matter, the Mayor of Zululand District Municipality, His Worship Rev. Thulasizwe Buthelezi, the Speaker of the Municipality, as well as the Deputy Mayor of the Municipality, had all lodged a complaint accusing the Hon. MEC for COGTA in KwaZulu-Natal, Mr Sipho Hlomuka, and Mdledle Inc. (company of forensic investigators) of flouting the forensic investigation procedure in the Zululand district forensic investigation, due to:
• Failure to give the applicants a clear statement of the case they were required to meet;
• Failure to give the applicants a meaningful opportunity to respond to allegations levelled against them (the audi alteram partem rule); and
• The evidence before the investigators not being rationally connected to the findings in the Report.
The Pietermaritzburg High Court ruled in favour of the Mayor of Zululand and the other applicants.
The judgment delivered by Justice J Chili in the application to set aside the Report on the bases of judicial review, ruled that:
1. The order is granted in terms of paragraphs 1, 2, 3, and 4 of the notice, dated 27 August 2020.
2. The first respondent (MEC for Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs in KwaZulu-Natal) is to pay the costs of the application.
The Leader of the Official Opposition in KwaZulu-Natal and President of the IFP, Hon. VF Hlabisa had cautioned the Premier of KZN, Hon. Sihle Zikalala, against jumping the gun on matters that were still being considered by the Courts when the Premier addressed the public. In responding to the State of the Province Debate at the Legislature in Pietermaritzburg on Tuesday, 2 March 2021, the Premier wrongfully stated in the House that:
“The report of Zululand District Municipality must be implemented, it should be presented and implemented. It is not an issue that must be discussed in a bilateral way somewhere outside proper platforms. We must deal with corruption wherever corruption prevails, and the court has made a judgment on the issue, people must not continuously prolong process to avoid facing consequences. Zululand District Municipality report must be processed and presented.”
This is what the Premier said, misleading the House and the province on a matter that he knew very well was still sitting before the Courts and was still awaiting judgment to be handed down. The judgment in the matter is only available now, leaving the Premier and his MEC with egg on their faces.
Judicial review is not a new phenomenon. President Ramaphosa took the Report of the Public Protector, on her findings about him on judicial review, and the Report was held in abeyance whilst the courts were considering it. Minister Pravin Gordhan did the same in the Public Protector’s findings on him, and the same applied. We do not have a law that applies in one way to ANC public officials in South Africa, and then changes when applied to public officials of other parties.
This judgment clearly indicates that the IFP’s accusations of bias by the Department of COGTA regarding COGTA’s investigations and interventions in the province are clearly not unfounded and baseless. This judgment must also be a lesson to MEC for COGTA, that he must refrain from fighting political battles using taxpayers’ money.
The IFP calls upon the Premier to retract his misleading statement made in the House in 2021, and to apologise to the officials of the Zululand District Municipality.
Hon. Velenkosini F Hlabisa:
Leader of the Official Opposition in KZN and President of the IFP
082 873 3685