New eThekwini mayor set to be chosen

Former eThekwini Municipality mayor Mxolisi Kaunda. | Supplied

Former eThekwini Municipality mayor Mxolisi Kaunda. | Supplied

Published Jun 19, 2024


Durban — The eThekwini Municipality will have a new mayor next week following Mxolisi Kaunda’s redeployment to the National Assembly last week.

This was confirmed to the Daily News by the City Speaker Thabani Nyawose on Tuesday. Nyawose said since he had already scheduled a council meeting for Tuesday, the council would also vote for a new mayor.

Explaining the process, Nyawose said after Kaunda tendered his resignation letter to him last week, he immediately informed the Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) to declare a vacancy, adding he was expecting a confirmation from the electoral body on Wednesday (today).

He said after the confirmation of the vacancy then the ANC as the party that has a vacancy will inform him as to who will replace Kaunda. The speaker said, however, that because it is over a year now, the ANC has the right to make changes to the original list and supply a new name.

“We are planning to elect a new mayor by Tuesday. We had already scheduled the council meeting but not for the mayor’s election since we had not known about it before the mayor was redeployed but we are going to use the meeting to also elect a new mayor,” Nyawose said.

The ANC spokesperson in KwaZulu-Natal Mafika Mndebele said the provincial leadership following party processes will submit three names to the national leadership which will then conduct interviews and come back with a successful candidate.

There is already speculation as to who will replace Kaunda between former parliamentarian Cyril Xaba and Nkosenhle Madlala who is currently a member of the Exco. In the mix, there is also Thembo Ntuli who is deputy chairperson of the party in eThekwini.

Kaunda was hastily recalled last Wednesday evening (June 12) as the mayor was referred to the National Assembly as a new member of the National Council of Provinces. It is not yet clear what role he would play there since he was not on the provincial to national list of the ANC.

Kaunda’s sudden removal was still the talk of the town and the ANC had not shared reasons for his removal with the public except to say it was redeployment rather than removal.

During his last media address last week, Kaunda said he was not given reasons and had accepted what the leadership had decided, adding that in the ANC no one demands reason for both deployment and redeployment. He denied rumours that his removal was because he was sympathetic to Umkhonto weSizwe Party. He said although he was close to Zuma but he was the one that advised him to retire from politics when he heard that he was about to announce his political come back.

Although, he said he was leaving a good legacy behind but the opposition described his axing as long overdue because of the challenges that faced the City under his leadership.

Reacting to the news of his removal last week, EFF caucus leader in eThekwini Themba Mvubu said he welcomed Kaunda’s removal, saying it was long overdue since the EFF has been saying the City was collapsing because of his poor leadership. He said everyone knew that the EFF had long wanted Kaunda out, which was evident by its support for several motions of no confidence against him.

In the last motion, which was filed by the IFP, Kaunda was saved by small parties.

IFP leader in eThekwini, Mdu Nkosi said the ANC took long to remove him.

“We had discussions with residents and ratepayers as they protested and complained about service. Despite the lack of service, ratepayers found themselves receiving higher bills.”

Nkosi said that he previously spoke on Kaunda’s arrival in 2019 – when he was elected as mayor of eThekwini – and said that Kaunda had promised change.

“It seems we have taken five steps back because there’s been no change. The auditor-general revealed from 2019, irregular expenditure has increased astronomically. When one speaks of a state of the City address, it’s going to be a cut-and-paste job because nothing new will be revealed. You will hear repetition on challenges and ways to combat them.”

Nkosi said the major issue in the City was water security and that even residents in affluent areas were experiencing such issues. He repeated the point that Kaunda should have been removed at the same time that opposition parties raised their issues. DA eThekwini Caucus Leader Thabani Mthethwa said the DA had long been calling for the removal of Kaunda and welcomed the action that was to finally remove him.

Kaunda was elected mayor of eThekwini on September 5, 2019, replacing Zandile Gumede.

IEC KwaZulu-Natal spokesperson Thabani Ngwira told the Daily News that the vacancy for the eThekwini mayor has been declared.

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