Durban - Just a month into the term of eThekwini Mayor, Zandile Gumede, the city has gone into a full-blown war with the official Opposition leader, Zwakele Mncwango.
On Wednesday, in an unprecedented move, the city launched a scathing attack on Mncwango, who, they said, was “frustrated” after he released a press statement saying the launch of the city’s Whatsapp water reporting line was nothing more than Mayor Gumede marking the “celebration of her first salary”.
In the statement, Mncwango alleged that the new mayor was spending ratepayer money on renovating her office, buying a new mayoral fleet, using the Metro police for protection and increasing her complement of bodyguards.
The city has vehemently denied the allegations.
In a counter press release, it not only labelled him as “frustrated”, but referred to him by his first name - minus his surname and designation - in it’s angry tirade.
Prior to the Whatsapp launch, Mncwango had voiced concern that the Exco only sat on Monday, after repeated requests for its convening, and that the portfolio committee’s inauguration would only be in the second week of October.
“There is a complete lack of urgency by the new administration. This lack of leadership is shameful when so many people face poor service delivery, and are unemployed,” Mncwango said.
He also claimed the mayor put her interests first, and folded her hands when it came to important tasks.
“Indeed, in the last 30 days, she has bought a new vehicle fleet, started renovations on her office, hired more VIP bodyguards, used metro police as personal security instead of allowing them to enforce by-laws, and ditched the finance and procurement committee,” he said.
“This is a mayor that puts herself first and the people of eThekwini last,” he said.
In a response that was not ascribed to a specific person, the eThekwini Metro said Mncwango’s “strange” statement contained half things that were figments of imagination.
“Zwakele Mncwango exhibits symptoms of uncontrollable frustration. It is clear that when the new council took office, Mncwango waited for it to fail so that he could celebrate.”
It went on to say the city’s leadership would not waste time on “Zwakele”, and demonstrate their commitment to the residents.
“They did exactly this at the launch of the Whatsapp water reporting line today. Further to this, Zwakele appears to be bitterly frustrated by the mayor’s 30-day report, which listed specific details of work done by various City departments in the past 30 days,” the statement said.
The city also denied claims that Gumede has a new fleet of vehicles, nor was renovating or renovated her mayoral office.
It also denied that she has hired more bodyguards or used metro police officials as her bodyguards.
They claimed that Gumede had “bolstered” the finance and procurement committee, which has been reduced into an Exco sub-committee without representation of small parties.
Mncwango said it was wrong of officials to enter the political arena, as Gumede should be the one to have responded. “They can dispute what I said, but they can’t be personal. You can’t have officials entering the political arena,” he said.