Mondlo will decide the future of AbaQulusi this Wednesday

Former mayor of AbaQulusi, Cllr Martin Mtshali, passed away last week Thursday after a short illness.

ABAQULUSI awaits Wednesday’s by-election in Mondlo with bated breath, as the IFP grapples to retain control of the council.

Following the 2016 local government elections, the ANC claimed 21 seats on AbaQulusi’s council, more than any other party. However the IFP (19 seats), DA (3 seats) and EFF (1 seat) working relationship ensured that the IFP leadership took control of the council.

The recent death of former IFP mayor, Cllr Martin Mtshali, left a vacancy in ward 18 and uncertainty as to the council’s future.

YOU MAY ALSO WANT TO READ: BREAKING NEWS: Martin Mtshali (1st democratically elected Mayor of Vryheid) has passed on

AND: Community has confidence in new mayor

If the ANC candidate wins the by-election, this will result in a hung council. While the Speaker of the council does have the power to cast a deciding vote in a debate, the ANC could simply choose to walk out of a meeting resulting in a quorum not being met, and the meeting would have to be discontinued.

Mayor, Jerry Sibiya (IFP), said he is ready to accept the result of the by-election, regardless of what happens, as the municipality belongs to the people in the community, not the councillors, and it is up to them to decide the future of AbaQulusi. He is, however, hoping for a win for the IFP to guarantee the political stability of the municipality for the rest of his term.

“I encourage the voters in ward 18 to participate in the by-election and I am hoping for at least a 60% voter turnout,” he said.

“Even if you are not affiliated with any political party, this is an opportunity to exercise your voice as a resident of AbaQulusi and to choose who will lead the municipality. The stability of the council is in your hands so think carefully before you cast your vote,” advised Mayor Sibiya. “IFP candidate, Khonza Thwala, has been serving in a committee called the Mondlo Community Committee (MCC) since 2001. This has changed to the Mondlo Development Committee, where Khonza is still involved. He is currently a district manager in the Department of Education. He was Cllr Mtshali’s protégé, in matters of politics as well as in his career in education. His experience makes him the most suitable candidate to boost development in ward 18, where we need a wise person who can bring back hope for the people. If Khonza wins, his focus will be on roads, water losses, economic growth, and the unemployment of youth.”

The DA had decided not to contest the by-election as an act of solidarity with the IFP.

“My wish is just that the election is fair and that everything takes place according to the rules with no intimidation,” said DA councillor, Alta de Kock.

Another contender in the by-election is NFP candidate, Thembinkosi Mbatha. Mr Mbatha concedes that it is taken for granted that, should the NFP win the by-election, the party will be working closely with the ANC. “This need not be the case,” said a confident Mr Mbatha. “If I am elected ward councillor, I intend to put the people in my ward first. Which party I work with depends on which party presents the better offer to benefit the residents of ward 18. I don’t have a problem working with the IFP if they have the better offer.”

He continued, “In Mondlo, there is still a crisis regarding water availability, electricity theft, unemployment and sanitation. Some people are still using a system for sanitation that was implemented in 1915. This needs to change. I believed in Cllr Mtshali even though we didn’t belong to the same political party. He was a true leader who listened to everyone without interrupting. He worked with everyone in the community and he taught me a lot.”

ANC election co-ordinator, Fely Khumalo, said fears of political instability, should the ANC win the ward, are unfounded.

“We want to work with the IFP to ensure that there is political stability,” he said. “Our primary objective is to service the people.”

The ANC candidate for the ward is Bongani Hadebe, a teacher in Mondlo. Mr Khumalo decribes Bongani as a humble person who is experienced in terms of dealing with service delivery.

“He is also the chairperson at Zion church so he is accustomed to finding solutions to the problems that people face,” concluded Mr Khumalo.

Estella Naicker

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