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ANC referees eThekwini Municipality deputy mayor row as caucuses tussle over appointment

eThekwini Municipality. File picture.

eThekwini Municipality. File picture.

Published Aug 3, 2021


DURBAN - The KwaZulu-Natal ANC leadership is to engage eThekwini councillors in an attempt to resolve a stand-off over the election of the deputy mayor.

The position has been vacant for the past five months following the resignation of Belinda Scott.

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ANC councillor Diana Hoorzuk was considered a front runner after she was deployed to the executive committee. But Hoorzuk is not favoured by some ANC councillors, including those who are concerned that she was formerly a member of the now defunct National Party.

The council meeting last Thursday, at which councillors were set to vote on the post, could not sit because the majority of the ANC councillors were locked in a caucus meeting until the scheduled time for staging the meeting expired, forcing Speaker Weziwe Thusi to adjourn it. Sources intimate with regional politics said the groundswell of opposition against Hoorzuk’s election involved three factions.

The cabals include the one behind ward 66-based ANC branch secretary Thabani Nyawose’s bid for the position of regional chairperson. Another consists of those in support of current mayor Mxolisi Kaunda, while a third is the majority faction campaigning for former mayor and chairperson Zandile Gumede’s return.

To the party’s provincial leadership, Hoorzuk is a favoured choice because she is considered to be free of the factional battles within the council.

The aggrieved councillors are concerned Hoorzuk is being “parachuted” into city hall in the same way as deputy mayor Scott was brought in from the legislature. “We are particularly concerned that she is a former councillor of the National Party, the known oppressors,” said one councillor.

A senior official who is close to city hall politics said Kaunda, who is thought to be hoping for a return as mayor in the local government elections, felt threatened by the presence of Hoorzuk.

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“The mayor (who was also brought in from the provincial politics to replace Gumede) feels that his hopes of returning as a mayor may be threatened by Hoorzuk, who is likely to be favoured by the province due to her impartiality from the city factions and because of her governance experience,” the source said.

Another councillor said his faction would have opted for a candidate to be drawn from within the serving council, citing Themba Shelembe who has, since Scott’s departure, acted as chairperson of the finance committee, which is traditionally chaired by a deputy mayor.

A long-serving councillor, who spoke off the record, said the concern about Hoorzuk having served in the NP did not make sense. “She has previously served as chairperson of the equally powerful infrastructure committee. Nobody raised any concerns about her having been a member of the NP. Why now?” the councillor asked, a sentiment shared by provincial ANC spokesperson Nhlakanipho Ntombela, who referred The Mercury to provincial secretary Mdumiseni Ntuli.

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“The deployment of comrade Diana was and is based primarily on her experience and suitability to be the deputy mayor. The quality of ANC members is not dependent on their previous political affiliations. Once you join the ANC, the ANC skills you further to assume any task considered suitable,” he said.

Ntuli added that the provincial leadership would engage further with the aggrieved to ensure the election process was finalised without hurdles.

Asked for comment yesterday, Hoorzuk referred The Mercury to the mayor’s spokesperson, Mluleki Mntungwa.

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“Councillor Hoorzuk will not be able to comment about what transpired in last week’s meeting. Her political background is well known and she remains committed to the ANC, which has deployed her to the city. As far as the position of the deputy mayor is concerned, we are also unable to comment until the council finalises it,” said Mntungwa. He dismissed allegations that Kaunda was unhappy about the deployment of Hoorzuk.

The date for a council meeting, which will enable the use of the required secret ballot for the election, is yet to be decided.

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ANCCity of Ethekwini