Pressure mounts on eThekwini city manager

Former Deputy mayor of eThekwini Philani Mavundla. Picture: Gcina Ndwalane.

Former Deputy mayor of eThekwini Philani Mavundla. Picture: Gcina Ndwalane.

Published Feb 28, 2024


Pressure is mounting on the eThekwini city manager, Musa Mbhele, to vacate his post.

The leader of the Abantu Batho Congress, Philani Mavundla, has called on Mbhele to resign amid crippling water and other service delivery challenges.

He joins a chorus of parties in the council that have taken aim at the municipal manager, including the EFF, which recently called for his resignation. The ANC also distanced itself from his appointment.

In an open letter, Mavundla, who was instrumental in the City’s “palace politics” that saw Mbhele romp to victory in the contest for the post, now says he regrets the decision.

The post was set to be offered to another candidate but things changed at the last minute after allegations surfaced that the ANC might have put its thumb on a scale in favour of that candidate.

That candidate was then rejected by the council and the process to appoint a city manager started afresh. New conditions as part of the job requirements and expertise were inserted as part of the new recruitment process that effectively ruled out that candidate and made Mbhele a shoo-in for the post.

In his open letter addressed to Mbhele, Mavundla, writing in his personal capacity as a “concerned” resident of eThekwini, said, “It is with a heavy heart that I write this letter to you not out of personal animosity, but due to the neglect of the residents and ratepayers of eThekwini under your leadership.

“Despite the ANC's initial reservations, I pushed for your appointment in the name of fairness, rocking the ABC/ANC coalition in the municipality, according to reports. The upheaval within the ABC/ANC coalition resulted in me facing allegations of impropriety surrounding your appointment, casting doubt in my own ability to make informed decisions.”

He said, “Due to your evident shortcomings in fulfilling your responsibilities, I must acknowledge my error in endorsing your appointment with my block of 13 votes ...

“It is evident that a change is needed, starting with the removal of incompetent officials under your supervision.

“I implore you to resign immediately to prevent further harm to the city and its residents. This is not a partisan request but a sincere plea from a disillusioned citizen who can no longer tolerate the inaction and mismanagement under your tenure.”

ADeC councillor Visvin Reddy said Mavundla was no ordinary citizen and was a former deputy mayor of the city.

“Mavundla is staying away from blaming the ANC because he is in alliance with the ANC in Umvoti Municipality where he is the mayor, “ said Reddy.

ActionSA councillor Alan Beesley said, “There is no doubt that service delivery is at an all time low and for that Mr Mbhele must take responsibility.

“ActionSA would support the call for the city manager to resign but would add that the mayor should also step down.”

eThekwini Municipality spokesperson Gugu Sisilana said, “eThekwini Municipality has noted the letter and will not be destructed by allegations and calls made by former deputy mayor of the municipality, Mr PG Mavundla.

“Instead, the city manager, Mr Musa Mbhele, and the entire administration is hard at work focusing on improving service delivery and attracting investment into the city.

“Our eyes are firmly fixed on the future and the infinite possibilities that lie ahead. We will not be commenting further on the matter.”

The Mercury