DURBAN - Smaller parties have put the ANC in eThekwini Municipality on notice, saying it had better deliver good governance and services because if it fails, it could be removed from its position at any moment.
The parties that carried the day for the ANC at the municipal council meeting to elect new leaders yesterday said their votes came with conditions and positions.
With narrow margins at play, Mxolisi Kaunda retained his position as mayor of the city, while Abantu Batho Congress president Philani Mavundla took the deputy mayor’s position.
Kaunda beat the DA’s Nicole Graham, while Mavundla defeated the IFP’s Mdu Nkosi.
The smaller parties yesterday described the new leadership of the municipality as a government of “national unity” that would guarantee accountability and improve service delivery for the city’s residents and represent minority parties’ interests.
The parties declined to spell out when they had reached a deal with the ANC, only saying they had also engaged with all other parties.
The meeting was a continuation of Monday’s council meeting that collapsed amid allegations of sabotage. The meeting was called off after a power outage and after people in ANC regalia stormed the venue.
Calculations show that at least 18 of the 26 members belonging to the smaller parties and independent candidates voted with the ANC yesterday, securing victory for the party in the two key positions.
“For the first time the smaller parties are going to be represented in the executive committee with the election of Philani Mavundla as the new deputy mayor of the city,” said African Democratic Change (Adec) leader Visvin Reddy. “Mavundla is very qualified for the position. He is a successful businessman and a former mayor of Greytown who, while there, refused to collect a salary. We believe he will do very well to represent the interests of small parties.”
The news that the ANC, which was on the verge of losing both positions on Monday, had struck a deal with smaller parties filtered through just as the council meeting started.
The ANC confirmed that by demanding to amend its list of executive committee members and removing one of their members and replacing that person with Mavundla. The opposition parties fought hard to try to prevent that change, but the ANC prevailed.
Reddy said: “It was the smaller parties that really made decisions today. This is good for democracy. The ANC is going to be held accountable. A motion of no confidence can be passed at any time on the ANC if they are not delivering.
“As smaller parties we have different interests in the city,” he said.
Patrick Pillay of the Democratic Liberal Congress (DLC) would not state outright how he had voted, but said: “Smaller parties now have a major role to play in the governance of the city.” He said parties that had seemed irrelevant in the past were now the major players in the city.
“We want to see good governance and ensure that ratepayers get value for their money. Today the DLC voted for merit, for good governance and service delivery. We believe that a major change will be coming for the residents of the city.”
In his acceptance speech, Kaunda vowed to work with all political parties to build a people-centred administration that was honest, accountable and responsive.
“As we hit the ground running, one of the urgent items in our order of business is a meeting with Umgeni Water to speedily resolve the current water challenge facing some parts of the city.
“We will also enhance our service delivery programmes such as Operation Sukuma Sakhe and Operation Good Hope where the municipality leadership and operational teams visit service delivery hotspots every week to attend to challenges of refuse collection, water leaks, clearing of verges, illegal dumping sites, street lights, sewer spillages and pothole patching.”
When asked about being bought to accept the ANC’s approach, Mavundla said it was not true.
“Maybe I am not filthy rich but for anyone to buy me it would be too expensive. I am not for sale, I know what I stand for,” he said.
In accepting defeat, Graham said some smaller parties had sold out.
“A few small parties, whose names you probably won’t even know, handed power back to the ANC in eThekwini. The IFP, EFF, DA, ACDP and ActionSA didn’t.”