ANC cadres bicker over eThekwini mayoral candidates

Former eThekwini mayor James Nxumalo could return to the City as the ANC regional leadership fights for him. | SIBUSISO NDLOVU

Former eThekwini mayor James Nxumalo could return to the City as the ANC regional leadership fights for him. | SIBUSISO NDLOVU

Published Jun 21, 2024


Durban — The ANC regional leadership in eThekwini is on a collision course with the provincial leadership over the names of the mayoral candidates that the mother body has reportedly submitted to the national leadership for consideration.

The ANC in KwaZulu-Natal was rumoured to have forwarded the names of former police minister Bheki Cele; former premier Nomusa Dube-Ncube; and former MP Cyril Xaba, to be interviewed for the vacant eThekwini mayor’s position.

The trio did not return to their seats in Parliament and legislature.

Reacting to the rumours, the party’s regional spokesperson, Mlondi Mkhize, said the region was rejecting the names even if it was true they were the ones the provincial leadership preferred.

Mkhize said it was also strange that the region was not being consulted as a courtesy about changes in eThekwini, adding that even after Mxolisi Kaunda’s removal, the region was never consulted.

He said the only names outside the council the region was prepared to accept were those of former mayor James Nxumalo and former human settlement and infrastructure head Nigel Gumede.

“We are in the dark with regards to the three names our provincial leadership has submitted to the national leadership.”

Supporting the region’s backing of Nxumalo and Gumede as mayoral candidates, Mkhize said Nxumalo had the experience to turn things around in eThekwini.

He said that when Nxumalo was a speaker and mayor he commanded great respect and ran the City well.

On Gumede, Mkhize said that if the required changes in eThekwini were about service delivery failures – especially infrastructure – Gumede was perfect for the job since he had held the position and there had not been any issues of infrastructure collapse under his tenure.

The City is currently under deputy mayor Zandile Myeni.

Myeni is the only NFP councillor in the City and her party formed a coalition with the ANC and other smaller parties after failing to win with an outright majority in 2021.

According to speaker Thabani Nyawose, the new mayor would be elected during a full council sitting on Tuesday.

Mkhize, for the first time, confirmed that the region was not happy with the deployment of Kaunda to be mayor in 2019.

He said that Kaunda had on several occasions refused to account to the regional leadership, arguing that since he was a member of the provincial executive committee (PEC) he was senior to them.

Previously, there were unconfirmed rumours that the region did not work well with Kaunda.

“We have had problems with Kaunda because he was a PEC member, and we were junior to him. Now they want to bring in an NEC (national executive) member,” said Mkhize.

The ANC’s spokesperson in the province, Mafika Mndebele, refused to be drawn into a debate with the regional leadership, saying that the provincial leadership had sent the names of three people who would be interviewed and that he did not want to engage in speculation until the process had been concluded.

He defended the provincial leadership’s role in the process, saying that it was known that about metro mayors, it was the provincial leadership that selected names and forwarded them to the national leadership for consideration.

Mndebele said it looked like the eThekwini region was unhappy being made spectators of the process.

Both Nxumalo and Gumede left the City after the 2016 local government elections.

Nxumalo went to the provincial legislature, while Gumede was redeployed to the National Assembly.

Neither made it back to their positions and were out in the cold.

Nxumalo, was also ANC chief whip in the legislature and is the current South African Communist Party chairperson in the province.

He was number 21 on the list.

The ANC dropped from 44 seats it received in 2019 to 14 in the recent elections.

Attempts to get comments from either Nxumalo or Gumede were unsuccessful.

Cele, Dube-Ncube and Xaba could not be reached for comment either.

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