UDM takes steps against ‘unlawful’ Mhlontlo meeting

A war of words has erupted between UDM councillors in Mhlontlo municipality and the council speaker after the opposition party threatened legal action if council did not rescind resolutions taken during an “unlawful” council meeting late last month.

The UDM in the Eastern Cape has taken legal action after a war of words erupted during a council meeting in Mhlontlo meeting Picture: FILE

The Daily Dispatch has seen a letter from the UDM’s lawyers, HS Toni Attorneys, to Mhlontlo council speaker Mbulelo Jara dated May 31, which demands he renounces the resolutions of the meeting in writing.

Failure to do so, states the letter, would leave UDM with no option but to approach the courts.

According to the letter, the council was scheduled for a 10am meeting on May 29. Items on the agenda included adoption of the final integrated development plan and the budget for the new financial year commencing on July 1, as well as an auditor-general’s report detailing unauthorised and wasteful expenditure.

The UDM left after waiting for more than two hours for the meeting to start, but another meeting was reportedly convened without notice.

“My client [UDM] is reliably informed that in the reconstituted meeting, the auditor-general’s report was discussed in a lackadaisical manner and in an atmosphere bereft of any accounting responsibilities,” stated the lawyers’ letter.

“Our instructions, therefore are to demand from you, as we hereby do, that you do, forthwith, renounce and nullify all resolutions taken in the above unlawful gathering and convene a properly constituted meeting with a view to engage meaningful debate on the above issues.”

Speaking to the Dispatch yesterday, the UDM party leader in Mhlontlo, Zakheni Nondaka, claimed the council had subsequently held the meeting at around 2pm on May 29.

He claimed it had been resolved during the meeting to write off about R178-million in unauthorised and wasteful expenditure, alleging that mayor Nompumelelo Dywili had told council that some of the people involved were no longer in the employ of the local authority.

“The question is, how does she know who is involved when no investigation into this matter was done?”

Nondaka said the UDM believed the move could have been an attempt to protect individuals within the municipality.

However, Jara, who yesterday confirmed receiving a letter from the UDM lawyers, hit back at Nondaka’s claims, accusing him of peddling lies in the media.

He disputed claims that the meeting had been illegal, saying an amendment notice had been sent out to all councillors.

He dismissed Nondaka’s claims that the council had resolved to write-off R178-million, saying the written off amount was a little more than R30-million.

But he was unable to give reasons as to why they had decided to write that amount off.

Attempts to contact Dywili were unsuccessful at the time of writing yesterday. — sikhon@dispatch.co.za