DURBAN - ETHEKWINI mayor Mxolisi Kaunda has been accused of being an “absent leader” following his failure to call for the sitting of executive committee (exco) meetings which are key to the functioning and oversight of the municipality.
Opposition parties said they were concerned that there had been no exco meetings since April 26 despite the city still reeling from its worst natural disaster in decades.
EThekwini and the rest of KwaZulu-Natal are recovering from devastating floods that left hundreds of people dead and thousands of homes destroyed.
Mayoral spokesperson Mluleki Mntungwa rubbished the accusations, saying since the disaster the mayor had called at least three special exco meetings to deal with the floods.
DA councillor Nicole Graham said thousands of people were in difficult situations and were not receiving the answers that they were looking for, leading to increased frustration.
“The situation in eThekwini feels desperate and increasingly leaderless. A few people in the system are trying their best, but leadership comes from the top and the buck must stop with mayor Kaunda.
“The DA has written to Kaunda, to formally request him to hold an exco meeting as soon as is humanly possible. While eThekwini faces a number of serious crises after the floods, the city’s leadership, chaired by the mayor, has not met since April 26,” she said in a statement.
Graham said exco should be meeting regularly to look at plans, to demand solutions from officials and to investigate community concerns.
She said the key issues exco should deliberate on include the water crises, “with hundreds of thousands of people without a regular water supply.
“This includes the situation in Tongaat, where the water works has been destroyed and sustainable solutions to reinstate a piped water supply must be urgently implemented.
“A plan (is needed) to fix the broken sewer trunk mains that are flooding communities, roads and rivers with untreated sewage, meaning that the treatment works are receiving no input at all in many places.”
Graham added that another pressing matter was the claims process for those affected by municipal property or damages during the floods, which has still not been clarified by the municipality, despite numerous requests for them to do so.
Another issue was the plans for the numerous community halls that are housing displaced community members, as these had led to several concerns, including health and safety issues, concerns of the surrounding communities and food supply for the displaced residents.
“Exco needs to meet and start having the hard conversations about how eThekwini moves forward from where it is. This is an absolute crisis that requires leadership and accountability,” she said.
IFP councillor Mdu Nkosi said exco councillors were full-time and in light of the disaster, they should be meeting every week to discuss the progress being made regarding assistance being given to communities.
“That is where I feel the mayor as the chair of exco is missing in not calling these meetings,” he said.
EFF councillor Thabane Miya said they were also not happy with the meetings not sitting.
“Exco is supposed to sit every Tuesday, we know they are dealing with this disaster, it would be better if they are on the ground and giving reports as to what is happening (in providing aid to people). But we are not getting reports and people are protesting every day,” Miya said.
However, Mntungwa said there was no crisis and accused the DA of “grandstanding”.
He said the next meeting would be on Tuesday next week.