Report reaching our news desk indicates that the DA and EFF on Thursday walked out of the eThekwini municipality’s council meeting in protest at the ruling ANC’s decision to have the discussions held behind closed doors.

The meeting‚ called yesterday‚ was to discuss the future of municipal manager Sibusiso Sithole‚ who has been involved in a spat with mayor Zandile Gumede.

Sithole‚ who’s five-year contract as head of the city administration ends on December 31‚ was reportedly told by Gumede to take leave until the end of the month. Sithole‚ citing municipal processes‚ defied the order.

The DA alleged on Wednesday that Sithole was forced out of the post for refusing to bend to ANC demands to employ party loyalists.

The claims were denied by the ANC‚ and the municipality said it would only comment after the meeting. On Thursday‚ councillors on the city’s powerful‚ decision-making Executive Committee (ExCo) met behind closed doors to discuss “senior managers posts”.

Decisions of ExCo are presented to council for ratification‚ but when the ANC wanted this second meeting to be “in-committee” and out of the view of public eye‚ the DA and EFF objected. DA councillor Heinz de Boer said‚ “We believe that the matter is of utmost public importance. The managers being discussed are paid by the ratepayers and taxpayers‚ and if the reccommendations as presented in the agenda are legally competent then there is no reason to keep the media and public from the meeting”.

“[Our walk-out] is based on this reasoning that the DA has stood up for the right of the public to attend municipal meetings and boycotted the proceeding. The decisions taken today will be on the heads of the ANC and IFP‚ who have chosen to push through the items behind closed doors‚” De Boer said

The municipality has called a 3pm media briefing with Sithole and Gumede. This is an developing story and will be updated.