15 March 2017
Seven months after local elections in which no political party won a majority of votes, Nquthu Municipality in northern KwaZulu-Natal is still without a mayor or a deputy mayor. Six attempts to elect a council have failed, despite an intervention by the Department of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs, headed by MEC Nomsa Dube Ncube.
Speaking in Nquthu last week, KZN Premier Willies Mchunu said administrators would take “decisions on behalf of the municipality”. He said every department was responsible for providing services.
Residents, however, say they have been adversely affected by the political drama.
Babhekile Mhlongo said, ‘It’s been seven months of struggle in Nquthu. We have no one to report to and to tell our problems to. We are struggling to have enough water. Water tanker drivers have seen an opportunity for business by selling us water … if we don’t buy and pay, we will suffer.”
“We only have one clinic and it’s a ten kilometre walk from our homes to get there, said Nomhle Khanyile from Mkhonjane. “When addressing us, the Premier said they are still conducting research to find out if another clinic is necessary. How long are we supposed to wait for them to finish that research?”
Ward 13 resident Bongi Hlabangani said, “We have a problem with roads, water and electricity. We connect electricity from the nearest shop and they charge us daily. We take turns doing that.”
“The roads are gravel … When it rains, it takes days for cars to be able to use the roads again. They have to wait at least a day or two for the road to dry off,” she said. “For seven months we have had no municipality and we have no one to report our problems to.”
Mchunu said elections would have to be held to resolve the stalemate.