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Tensions mount in ANC/ABC eThekwini coalition as deputy mayor Mavundla claims he is being sidelined

Durban City Hall. Picture: Khaya Ngwenya/African News Agency (ANA)

Durban City Hall. Picture: Khaya Ngwenya/African News Agency (ANA)

Published May 17, 2022


Durban - The relationship between the ANC and Philani Mavundla’s Abantu Batho Congress (ABC) has been further strained after the latter claimed he was being sidelined despite being the second-in-command at the municipality.

Mavundla is in a coalition with the ANC and other smaller parties. In return, the ANC surrendered its exco seat, human settlements portfolio and the position of deputy mayor to him.

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However, six months into the coalition, there are fresh tensions between the two, with Mavundla saying he is being frustrated by ANC deployees.

Mavundla’s frustration is contained in a leaked WhatsApp message that he sent to his close staff late last week when the Daily News enquired about a meeting he had held with Musa Nciki, the eThekwini ANC regional secretary.

In the message, he said the Daily News should not be worried about Nciki and his people “who are no harm to no one at this stage”, and rather focus on investigating his alleged sidelining.

It was alleged that Nciki was trying to soften Mavundla so that he does not pull out of the coalition, thus kicking the ANC out of power.

EThekwini Deputy Mayor Philani Mavundla addresses the media about the Municipal 2022 strategic plan regarding infrastructure, City cleaning, housing, water and other developments. Picture: Tumi Pakkies/African News Agency(ANA)

The concerns came about last month after Mavunda threw a spanner in the works when he refused to back Max Mbili as the next city manager. Mbili, a seasoned local government expert, was backed by the ANC to take over. However, Mavundla said he was not comfortable with him because he seemed to be beholden to the governing party, a charge Mbili vehemently denied.

In the latest twist, Mavundla said he was being overlooked even when mayor Mxolisi Kaunda was away. He cited several incidents in which he felt overlooked by the ANC leadership.

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“Last Friday we had the KZN Business Coalition annual Investec breakfast meeting. When Gavin Ward, the vice-president of Toyota and president of the Durban Chamber of Commerce, introduced the guest he also mentioned that in our midst there was councillor Thanduxolo Sabelo representing the mayor, councillor Kaunda, yet I was there. Mr Ward did recognise me since in any case we were seated at the same table, but he knows who PG Mavundla is,” Mavundla said in the message.

“What the journalist didn’t notice was the fact that the mayor doesn’t recognise me as a mayor when the mayor is indisposed (sic). For the past three weeks that the mayor was not around, all the ministers who came to Durban, I was never told to accompany them – yet the invitation went to the mayor’s office. In cases where this happened it was only when they had no one to attend – instead, juniors were made to replace me.”

In the same message, he added that he was not worried about this. Nonetheless, he said Kaunda could not even appoint him to chair the exco while he was off sick.

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Mxolisi Kaunda, KwaZulu-Natal MEC for Transport, Community Safety and Liaison addressed an audience at a breakfast hosted by the Progressive Professional Forum and Minara Business Chamber yesterday morning. Picture Leon Lestrade

“The exco has not sat for over 16 days while the mayor was not around simply because if it sat I was the one who had to chair it, so he preferred it not to sit until he was forced to do so,” he said.

Kaunda’s spokesperson, Mluleki Mntungwa, denied that they were bypassing Mavundla. He said the mayor appointed people to stand in for him based on the portfolio they chaired.

“The mayor has the prerogative to send exco members to attend functions on his behalf if he can’t attend them. It is the mayor who decides, and that is based on the relevant portfolio they are serving in. So, there is no such thing that someone is being overlooked. If there are issues, the mayor has an open-door policy, he can be approached,” Mntungwa said.

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Apparently worried about the tensions between Mavundla and ANC deployees in the metro, ANC eThekwini regional chairperson Zandile Gumede said their members in the municipality must respect their coalition partners, and consult with them because they did not muster an outright majority to govern alone.

Gumede said this last week in Durban while celebrating her 61st birthday at the Olive Convention Centre.

Daily News