Utrecht protesters back officials

The protest dispersed within minutes of the handing-over of the memorandum.

Utrecht protesters have demanded its leadership be left alone.

A crowd of residents marched from the Voor Street filling station to the eMadlangeni Municipality on Friday, in protest against the decision by the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (CoGTA) to place the municipality under administration.

Read: Utrecht’s municipality under new rule

Protesters bore placards with slogans such as ‘Nomsa [sic] please leave our Utrecht alone’.

Outside the municipal complex, protesters stated they would not accept CoGTA MEC, Nomusa Dube-Ncube intervening, as the community had voted in its leadership.

“We congratulate and support our councillors. They must remain unshaken because to remove them is against democracy,” one protester exclaimed.

The residents first read through a memorandum of complaints and observations, and called the decision of the MEC political tactics.

They also promise more protests if Ms Dube-Ncube did not back down.

“The current leadership is working in the best interests of the community. We demand the decision be overruled, and the process of the former Municipal Manager’s suspension be left alone. This matter is still sub judice.”

Community members wanted the powers of its elected councillors restored, allowing these councillors to make decisions benefiting the community.

They wanted a response by Friday, or protests would escalate.

Legal representatives of the eMadlangeni Municipality received the memorandum and agreed to have high-ranking officials sign and forward the document on.

Municipal leadership then invited media into a closed discussion.

The talks were led by Deputy Mayor, Ntsikelelo Ndlovu, Acting Municipal Manager, Advocate Nontobeko Sibisi and Ward 6 Councillor, Thamsanqa Buthelezi.

“We are dissatisfied the community has to take this action over an incorrect decision,” Cllr Buthelezi exclaimed.

He said the decision to place the municipality under administration was multi-faceted, and called it nothing more than a distraction tactic.

Further, officials have vowed to challenge the decision in court.

In highlighting the good progress and the lauded mid-year report, Cllr Ndlovu added the municipality was functioning well in its six months under new leadership.

“Previously, the MEC filed an application to the High Court to overturn the suspension of the former Municipal Manager. This case was eventually struck off the roll, and CoGTA had to pay the costs.”

The tension both within and without the municipality led the MEC herself to call an urgent imbizo on Wednesday morning.

The outcome of this discussion remains uncertain.

Numerous attempts to gain clarity from CoGTA itself on the decision, proved fruitless and at the time of going to print, no response was received.

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Bruce Douglas

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