Durban - THE ANC in KwaZulu-Natal yesterday deployed its top brass to oversee the inauguration of the new leadership of the embattled Msunduzi Municipality.
The party seemed intent on crushing any possible last-minute dissent among its councillors by deploying three of its top five provincial leaders.
Present at the swearing-in ceremony were KZN Premier and ANC Provincial chairperson Sihle Zikalala, MEC for Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Sipho Hlomuka, Finance MEC Ravi Pillay and Provincial Secretary Mdumiseni Ntuli.
The event proceeded smoothly.
The ANC was left embarrassed this week when Durban mayor Zandile Gumede withdrew her resignation on Wednesday night, and a council meeting meant to inaugurate the new leaders of the city was cancelled.
Transport, Community Safety and Liaison MEC Mxolisi Kaunda was set to be inaugurated as eThekwini mayor.
There were fears yesterday that the inauguration of mayor Mzimkhulu Thebolla, deputy mayor Manilal Inderjit and speaker Eunice Majola would be sabotaged by some councillors within the divided Msunduzi caucus.
However, the ANC leadership heaved a sigh of relief when the chaos that had been expected failed to materialise. Security around the city hall was beefed up, and the streets were partially cordoned off. The main entrance was sealed, allowing for only one controlled entrance. A police Casspir was parked outside the city hall.
Inside the venue, there was a strong security presence, with those not on the list of expected guests prevented from attending.
ANC councillors toed the party line when it was time to vote for the new leadership. Voting on the four positions had to be done through a secret ballot after the DA put forward its own candidates.
All the ANC candidates won by 51 votes to 19 of the opposition, with no spoilt ballots.
Zikalala read the Riot Act to the new leadership, saying the ill-discipline and unethical behaviour that had collapsed the council before would not be tolerated. “All the negative headlines about the Msunduzi Municipality should be history,” he said.
He added that it was disheartening that poor leadership and mismanagement had pushed the municipality into administration.
“There have been allegations in this council of poor leadership, of councillors colluding with staff, which led to insubordination. All of that must stop, and must stop now,” he said.
He urged the council to focus on restoring the battered image of the city so it could attract investment.
Thebolla, in his inaugural speech, said the fixing of the municipality would not be a stroll in the park. To turn it around, he said, would need all those in the council, including opposition members, to rise above politics and contribute ideas for the city to grow.
Inderjit was practical in his address, focusing on administrative issues such as the billing system, the dysfunctional call centre and the fixing of infrastructure as a priority.