MK veterans shut down two Midlands councils

Former members of the ANC military wing, Mkhonto weSizwe (MK Vets), brought two KZN Midlands councils to a standstill on Wednesday.

The MK Vets took control of Richmond and Umvoti municipalities demanding jobs, tenders and government houses.

The MK Vets have now targeted four municipalities in less than a month. On Monday the MK Vets shut down Msunduzi Municipality after having occupied uMgungundlovu District Municipality offices late last month.

At the Richmond Municipality, MK Vets took control of the municipality on Wednesday and restricted access to the municipal offices to their members as well as a few members of council.

A group of ex-combatants, wearing their signature camouflage uniform, sang and danced to struggle songs while their leadership met with deputy mayor Khonziwe Mkhize and speaker Samora Ndlovu.

They dispersed after 12 noon, only for the gates to the municipality to be closed by municipal workers who have been protesting for the past two weeks, calling for the head of embattled municipal manager Bongiwe Mnikathi, who remains suspended.

MK Vets Richmond Zone chairperson, Dumisani “Sash” Ndlovu, said they had been promised that the municipality would call a special full council meeting to discuss their matter.

“Since Mnikathi’s arrival in August last year, she has been playing hide and seek. We have engaged the municipality six times but nothing has been done so far to benefit us.

“There is a national government procurement policy which says we must benefit [by] 20% of all government tenders and be assisted with housing.

“That is not happening in this municipality and it is time now that this municipality listens to us,” Ndlovu said.

Council speaker Ndlovu said they would respond to the MK Vets’ memorandum before the end of next week.

Attempts to get comment from Mnikathi were unsuccessful.

Outside the gate, two other groups held their own protests.

About 300 ANC Youth League members held a protest calling for the removal of Mnikathi and mayor Sibusiso Mchunu.

Nhlakanipho Sithole, who led the protest staged by ANCYL members, said they had lost confidence in Mchunu.

Meanwhile, in Greytown MK Vets chained the gate, locking in Umvoti municipal staff, councillors and visitors, demanding to see mayor Thamsanqa Ngubane and municipal manager Siphindile Ngiba.

MK Vets Moses Mabhida regional secretary, Menzi Mkhize, said they have had several meetings with the municipality but the municipality had failed to implement their demands.

“We have decided to come here and put some pressure on the municipal leadership,” he said.

The two parties were locked in a meeting late on Wednesday.

Umvoti confirmed that MK Vets had chained the gates at the municipality, preventing anyone from leaving or entering the municipal offices.

In a statement, the municipality said mayor Ngubane had met with the MK Vets on Wednesday.

Ngubane had also met with them previously where resolutions were reached, which included (but were not limited to), identification of local economic development opportunities where MK Vets could benefit and processing of housing allocations for MK Vets.