Kaunda accused of ‘overstepping authority’ by some city councillors

eThekwini mayor Mxolisi Kaunda and deputy mayor Philani Mavundla.

A combined image of eThekwini mayor Mxolisi Kaunda and deputy mayor Philani Mavundla. Picture: African News Agency (ANA) Archives.

Published Nov 11, 2022

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Durban - eThekwini mayor Mxolisi Kaunda is facing criticism from some city councillors who accuse him of “overstepping” his authority.

This after he led a public briefing yesterday detailing action by the city to relocate the remaining flood victims still in mass care centres.

Some councillors on the Human Settlement and Infrastructure Services (HSI) portfolio committee felt this was overstepping and argued it should have been led by his deputy, Philani Mavundla, who is the chair of the committee, as the matter falls under the purview of the HSI committee.

The concerns by councillors underline the tension between the two men who have been at loggerheads over presiding over city events, with Kaunda preferring to take the lead as the mayor.

A councillor in the committee, who spoke on the issue, said some councillors questioned why Kaunda had presided over the event.

“There are councillors in our WhatsApp group who wanted the deputy mayor to be the one presiding over the event. They are questioning why the mayor led the programme.”

IFP councillor Mzwethu Gwala said he was aware of the concern adding there had been instances when members of the committee felt sidelined.

“I saw the message popping up that the programme should not be handled by the mayor but by the chair. I did not pay it any mind because I was busy with other matters.

“But it is clear that there is a conflict between the two. You find that we plan something as a committee only to find later that it has been taken over by the mayor’s office, and we’re left out as a committee.

“There was a programme that was to unveil trucks for Durban Solid Waste, which was to be led by the chair (Mavundla), but that programme had to be postponed because it had been hijacked by the mayor's office, and a similar occurrence happened with a programme to unveil buses.”

Approached for comment, Mavundla said the briefing was not an issue for him.

“I cannot be in many places at one time. The HSI committee has 22 units. The mayor is handling this matter, and I am handling the issue of (fixing roads) in the west.”

He said he did not feel undermined, and he could not comment on a remark made by councillors.

“This was not political. No one can undermine me. Politically, I am old, experienced and have seen a lot.”

Mayoral spokesperson Mluleki Mntungwa had not responded to requests for comment.

In delivering his briefing, Kaunda said all the mass care centres for flood victims should be decanted by December 15.

He added that from the original 120 mass care centres occupied by the April and May 2022 flood victims, 62 have been closed through various interventions.

“A total of 13 buildings have been identified and linked to mass care centres and the process of moving people to these buildings is currently under way.

“The remaining 58 mass care centres, which are accommodating 3  448, will be cleared by December 15, 2022.” He said R34  million was allocated for 3  011 people who required material supply.

“To date, 467 people from five mass care centres have been supplied with building material (Bester, Amaoti, Dassenhoek and Clermont Hall).

“Eight land parcels have also been identified to build permanent structures and we are pleased that earthworks have begun in these sites and construction is expected to be completed in 2024,” he said.

THE MERCURY