Durban - THE ANC in KwaZulu-Natal has played its game “very carefully” by keeping its eThekwini councillors close to the city to keep all warring sides happy.
This was Far Outer West Ratepayers’ Association Tony Clothier’s view on the announcement of the new political heads of the eThekwini and Msunduzi municipalities yesterday.
The ANC announced yesterday that former eThekwini mayor Zandile Gumede would be replaced by Community Safety and Liaison MEC Mxolisi Kaunda, with former finance MEC Belinda Scott his deputy.
Former social development MEC Weziwe Thusi was roped in as Speaker, while Sibongiseni Mkhize, the ward 22 councillor, was brought in as chief whip.
Gumede, former deputy mayor Fawzia Peer, former Speaker William Mapena and five other ANC councillors who served on the executive committee would remain as councillors in eThekwini and would be allocated their duties in due course.
In Msunduzi Municipality, Mzimkhulu Thebolla was appointed mayor, replacing Themba Njilo. Thebolla currently works in the provincial legislature. He also serves on the ANC Moses Mabhida regional task team and has been a councillor and Exco member in the past.
His deputy is Manilal Inderjit, who has served on the Msunduzi Exco and was the chairperson of Community Services, while Eunice Majola, a current councillor, Exco member and chairperson of the sustainable development committee, was appointed Speaker.
Vusi Ntshangase, a former ANC Youth League Moses Mabhida regional secretary and current PR councillor in the Umgungundlovu Municipality, was appointed chief whip.
Clothier said: “There will still be ramifications given the disruptions caused by Gumede’s supporters when the ANC sent her on a leave of absence. That they are kept within eThekwini is to ensure that their moves are watched. The good thing is that they won’t have any powers to act as they wish and cause more damage to the city in the process.”
He said the damage done to the city was huge and could not be fixed overnight.
“It’s probably going to take a couple of years for the city to recover from the damage they have caused, especially to ratepayers, but I don’t think we can get any worse than we experienced,” Clothier said.
He added that in Scott, the city had somebody who understood economics, so ratepayers were in much better hands.
During the announcement of the new municipal leadership, ANC provincial secretary Mdumiseni Ntuli said announcements would be made regarding replacements in other municipalities around the province within a few days.
Provincial chairperson Sihle Zikalala said the vacuum left by the MECs would be dealt with once the redeployment process had been finalised. “All the councillors who have been replaced will remain in their current municipalities.
“There will be no provincial or national Parliament redeployment. Should a comrade be found to be working against the newly elected leadership, then we might ask that comrade to recuse him or herself,” Zikalala warned.
Palesa Phili, the chief executive of the Durban Chamber of Commerce and Industry, declined to comment until the appointments had been made official.
Melanie Veness, the chief executive of the Pietermaritzburg and Midlands Chamber of Business, congratulated the elected councillors and said she hoped they would appreciate the gravity of the task at hand.
“Pietermaritzburg is facing challenges in all spheres of service delivery. They will have to embrace the task of turning the city’s fortunes around. We don’t have enough supply of electricity and water, and it becomes embarrassing when we have visitors because of the filthy state of the city,” she said.
Attempts for comment from Njilo and Gumede were unsuccessful.
Opposition parties appealed for Kaunda to be given a chance to run eThekwini because, unlike Gumede, he had not been linked to corruption scandals.
However, the parties questioned the ANC for appointing the lesser-known Thobela as mayor of the financially strapped Msunduzi Municipality.
DA provincial leader Zwakele Mncwango said Kaunda deserved a chance to prove himself.
“We don’t know any bad things about Kaunda,” he said.
IFP national chairperson Blessed Gwala backed Mncwango over Kaunda’s appointment.
“We think that Mxolisi can make a difference, but we will monitor his performance because we cannot predict how he is going to perform,” he said.
“Kaunda’s performance (as MEC) is not bad. I am worried about Belinda Scott because of her performance in the Finance Department, and we were vindicated because she was not retained (in the cabinet),” said Gwala.
EFF provincial chairperson Vusi Dube also expressed concern about Thobela’s appointment and about the members of his executive to lead Msunduzi.
Political analyst Protus Madlala said he hoped that eThekwini Municipality would be turned around with the appointment of the senior and experienced Scott and Thusi.
“Belinda Scott has a lot of experience at provincial level, and we have another senior person in mama Weziwe Thusi.
“I have not heard anything hanging around the neck of these two ladies in terms of corruption in their previous portfolios, so this is a sign of hope,” he said.
He added that it was unfortunate that the new Msunduzi leaders were not known, but said that change was welcome in Pietermaritzburg.