Durban - The ANC in eThekwini says the municipality will be without a deputy mayor until next year as it negotiates with its coalition partners to find a suitable replacement following the removal of deputy mayor Philani Mavundla yesterday.
The candidate selected for the post will, however, not carry the same power as Mavundla did as the ANC said in giving Mavundla the deputy mayor position as well as the chairmanship of the Human Settlement and Infrastructure(HSI) services committee, they had given “everything away”.
ANC councillor Nkosenhle Madlala said linking the two positions was an “accident of history” that the party intended to correct.
It emerged that this is not the only change the ANC is contemplating. The entire chairmanship and the allocation of portfolios in the council could be reassessed as the party looks to strike compromises with its coalition partners to create a more stable government.
Mavundla was given the deputy mayor position after he along with the smaller parties formed a coalition with the ANC after the party failed to secure outright control of the metro during last year’s local government elections.
Madlala was clear that the powerful chairmanship of the HSI committee, the committee that controls 90% of the city’s R54 billion budget, should be returned to the ANC in order for it to be able to hold those leading the portfolio accountable.
The HSI committee deals with critical services including water, electricity, sanitation and human settlements. The sheer scope of the services under this committee gave Mavundla, who is president of the Abantu Batho Congress, a massive public presence, overshadowing the mayor Mxolisi Kaunda, which created tension between the two.
The acrimonious relationship between Mavundla and the ANC finally came to an end yesterday after the ANC recalled Mavundla from the executive committee through an emergency motion at the full council sitting.
Mavundla had tried to stop his removal through a court interdict but the ANC found a way around it. The party said their interpretation of the interdict was that it prevented them from acting against Mavundla only if the legal process that governs such processes had not been complied with.
It said it complied with all those legal processes.
“The position of the deputy mayor is not going to be replaced (filled). It’s going to be filled in the first meeting next year, that is done to allow the parties in coalition to talk among themselves as the position was not given to Mavundla as a person, it was given to the coalition,” said Madlala.
He said this would not only give the parties a chance to talk but to see if they cannot attract other partners as they want to create stability in the council and “you can only create stability when you have numbers to support decisions”.
He said while there were two vacancies in the executive committee, following the resignation as Exco member of councillor Thanduxolo Sabelo, who was recalled from the post by the ANC, they would only fill one vacancy in order for Exco to quorate and continue with its work.
The ANC filled the vacancy with councillor Thembo Ntuli, who is the deputy chair of the ANC eThekwini region.
Asked about the possibility that the next deputy mayor might demand to hold the same cluster as Mavundla, Madlala said they would not allow that to happen.
Reacting to being ousted, Mavundla said he intended to challenge the matter by going back to court.
“We are going back to court. This is not over,” said Mavundla who conducted an impromptu press briefing after he was officially ousted.
Mavundla said reasons listed for his removal were flimsy as it included the poor state of swimming pools and the spending of the city.
“As you know, I have nothing to do with swimming pools or the spending of the city.”
Speaker of the council Thabani Nyawose said the council complied with all legal requirements regarding the motion.