‘Court victory sets tone for good governance’: DA in KZN

The DA in KwaZulu-Natal has welcomed the high court ruling that rejected Umdoni local municipality manager’s decision to replace DA councillor with an ANC politician. 

In a landmark ruling on Monday, the KwaZulu-Natal High Court dealt a heavy legal blow to Thabisile Ndlela, the Umdoni municipality manager.

The court ruled against her decision to facilitate the replacement of a DA councillor with an ANC politician.

In the judgement, Ndlela’s decision, which led to the election of ANC councillor Ravinand Maharaj, was declared illegal. Ndlela has also been slapped with a cost order.

Undue influence

Ndlela’s woes stem from her February 2023 decision regarding replacement of a DA councillor. She is alleged to have unduly facilitated the election of Maharaj to serve into the municipal executive committee.

Shortly after the 2021 elections, DA’s councillor Edwin Baptie resigned, prompting a vacancy to be declared. The party submitted the name of Shamila Sookhraj as the replacement. However, Ndlela decided to facilitate for the election of Maharaj into the vacant position.

The decision led to the DA approaching the high court with the aim of overturning Ndlela’s decision.

Decision ruled invalid

On Monday, the high court  ruled in favour of the DA. The court subsequently ordered that Ndlela personally foot the bill for the costs of DA’s legal counsels. This includes the costs of the application.

“The decision taken by first respondent not to implement the appointment by the second applicant of the first applicant to fill the vacancy on the seventh respondent arising from the resignation of erstwhile councillor Edwin Baptie is declared to be invalid,” read the judgement by Judge Phillip Nkosi.

Missing qualifications

Ndlela is no stranger to controversy. Last year opposition parties in the council gunned for her after she allegedly failed to produce a qualification.

She allegedly said she obtained it from the Durban University of Technology. At the time, she was acting in the position of municipal manager.

With Umdoni one of the hung councils in the province, the seat holds a crucial decision in the 37 seats council. Following the 2021 municipal elections, the ANC garnered 17 seats, DA seven seats and the IFP five seats. Other seats were shared among smaller parties. The council is under the Ugu district, KZN south coast region. The region is known for its pristine beaches.

Clean governance

The DA’s KZN chair, Dean McPherson said the court victory sets the tone of the importance of clean governance.

“The ANC’s desperation to cling to power has pushed it to a point of complete disregard for the laws of governance. [It] is now simply driven by fear and panic,” he said.

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