Shattered in the eThekwini by-elections, the defiant Minority Front is ready to remove “dead stock” as they reboot their party.
Finally speaking out after their defeat at the local polls on Wednesday in which the MF lost two key wards, resulting in it losing its only seat in the municipality’s executive committee, party leader Shameen Thakur-Rajbansi remained adamant that the party was not ready to fade into history.
“I can state that the MF has returned to its starting point and this will be a challenging time for the party. The game plan for the party is to remove what we have identified as dead stock. These are public representatives who sit back, collect their salaries and do nothing for the people.”
Two MF councillors, Bradley Singh and Devraj Pillay in Ward 52 in Phoenix and Ward 73 in Chatsworth, had defected to the DA, initiating the need for by-elections.
However Singh and Pillay retained their wards under the flag of the DA, the first time that the DA has taken these two former MF strongholds.
Thakur-Rajbansi does not see this as a negative.
“Now that the MF leadership issues are resolved, I intend ensuring service delivery at ground level. The predominantly Indian communities have short memories. They do not vote out of emotion or out of blind loyalty. They vote for a party which is seen to be stable and which can, in their view, deliver. They are simply trying out the DA.
“Losing Ward 73 was heart-breaking. I cannot blame the voters. Currently the MF is launching an investigation with information we have received, which points to a traitor within our party, who has been responsible for the loss of this ward,” said Thakur-Rajbansi.
In the other two by-elections, Shaun Ryley took the Durban North ward and Bruce Sutcliffe, the brother of former city manager Mike Sutcliffe, took the Pinetown, Cowies Hill and Westville areas.
Councillor Pillay said he was looking forward to working under the DA in his ward, which incorporates Arena Park, Montford and Croftdene.
Pillay said crime was the main issue.
Councillor Singh also retained his ward, even though he switched from the MF to the DA.
“I’ve always been working hard in this ward, and my key focus will be ensuring service delivery and ensuring the budget is used.”
He said being part of the DA now meant he had access to more members at national parliamentary level.
Ryley took the Durban North ward, retaining it as a DA stronghold.
He said Durban North was a big contributor to the municipality’s rate base.
As such, he would endeavour to make sure that the concerns of residents would be heard and acted upon.
Sutcliffe is ready for his ward - Pinetown, Cowies Hill and Westville. “One of the main things I will focus on in my ward is the infrastructure collapse such as parks and roads.”
The increasing use of contractors and consultancies by the municipality, said Sutcliffe, would be something he would be tackling.
- Independent on Saturday