Durban - Veteran eThekwini councillor, Fawzia Peer, has been tipped to be Durban’s next deputy mayor as the ANC reaches out to the Indian electorate and seeks continuity and experience.
According to sources, Peer will deputise for mayor-elect, Zandile Gumede, who succeeds outgoing mayor James Nxumalo.
Peer, the former finance and procurement committee chairwoman, is set to take the post previously occupied by Nomvuzo Shabalala, who did not make the cut after being too low on the ANC’s proportional representation (PR) list.
Peer on Wednesday morning insisted she had “not been told anything by the ANC leadership yet”.
Out of the 76 ANC PR nominees, only 52 made it – which means some senior councillors such as Nigel Gumede, Logie Naidoo and Stanley Xulu, among others, look likely to be left in the cold.
The sources said former ethics committee chairman, William Lekgoa Mapena, was tipped to be the Deputy Speaker while ANC Youth League regional secretary, Zama Sokhabase, ANC deputy secretary, Mondli Mthembu, and Sipho Kaunda were set to be appointed on to the municipality’s executive committee (exco).
Nelisiwe Nyanisa is apparently set to become the chief whip and South African National Civic Organisation provincial secretary, Richard Hlophe, is tipped to be the ethics committee chairman.
On Tuesday, two well-placed sources told the Daily News that Peer, who was number 30 on the PR list, received the nod for the second most powerful council post from the ANC-led deployment committee and the provincial executive committee on Monday.
This comes after the list of councillors for Exco, given to provincial leaders by Gumede and the ANC eThekwini regional leadership, was rejected last week for not meeting certain expectations – experience, continuity and skills.
“It was not just eThekwini. A number of other regions were told to sort things out. We are getting somewhere in some regions as they have sorted issues that had been raised with them,” one source, who asked to remain anonymous, said.
Sources said the ANC in eThekwini region had submitted the name of Mthembu for the deputy mayoral job on its initial list.
Two or three other names were also submitted for other exco positions, but the party leaders were not pleased with some of the names, and rejected the initial list.
In an apparent change of heart, Peer’s name was submitted for the deputy mayor’s job on their return to the provincial leaders and deployment committee on Monday.
“They cited issues of national question when they motivated for Fawzia to the post,” a source said.
The national question, according to ANC terminology, refers to representation of minorities such as coloureds, whites and Indians.
With Naidoo unlikely to return as Speaker, the ruling party was under pressure to find someone to be the face of minorities to reassure the Indian community that it was represented.
The party fared poorly when it came to tapping Indian votes in the August 3 elections.
The sources said the nomination of Peer, a labour consultant by profession, could also be an attempt to bolster the mayor’s office beyond its ceremonial role because of Peer’s vast experience dating back to 1994.
“She (Peer) has been in the council for too many years. She is experienced in council-related issues so it makes sense to have her to cover Zandile.”
Peer has during her council career held different posts such as Speaker, chief whip and finance and procurement chairwoman.
In the August 3 elections, Peer contested as candidate in Ward 31, but lost to the DA’s youthful Christopher Pappas.
“We had encouraged her as one of the people backing James (Nxumalo) to stand as a ward candidate in case she was placed low on the PR list like others,” the source said of Peer, who in her Facebook page told the electorate to “vote for experience, integrity, service”.
Bheki Ntuli, ANC eThekwini regional secretary, confirmed to the Daily News they made a second presentation to the provincial leaders on Monday.
“We did make a presentation (on Monday) and we agreed that Zandile will be the mayor,” Ntuli said.
“Yes, there were issues with the first list, but we can’t tell in the media what they were,” he said.
Pressed to confirm the specific names bandied about for council positions, Ntuli said there was nothing final about the names of councillors deployed to other leadership positions in council.
“We are in the process of finalising exco at this juncture. When we are ready, we will brief you,” he said.