Durban - THE ANC was able to stage a bitter fight to retain the eThekwini municipality, the only metro in KwaZulu-Natal which has a budget of R56 billion and a population of 4 million.
Wednesday’s battle was a very epic one, with the governing party scraping through with a reduced majority. In the 219 seats available on the day, the ANC was able to notch 113 votes, meaning that with its 95 seats in the council, it was able to tap in 18 more from others, with two coming from Mavundla’s party.
The re-enactment of the battle that was botched on Monday when a suspicious power failure and security breach when ANC supporters invaded the hosting venue, started when it became clear that Philani Mavundla of the ABC party had jumped ship and joined forces with the ANC - his former party.
That became clear when the ANC surrendered its Exco seat by sacrificing Ntokozo Sibiya to accommodate Mavundla so that he could become the deputy mayor. When asked about being bought to accept the ANC’s approach, he said it was not true.
He said buying him would have been too expensive.
“Maybe not filthy rich but for anyone to buy me it would be too expensive. I am not for sale, I know what I stand for,” he said.
An insider within the ABC said the decision to side with the ANC was informed by the fact that working with the DA’s coalition partner would have been difficult.
“Working with these Afrikaners would have been hard. They have no interest (in) black people at heart. At least with the ANC, we would be able to sway them and force them to prioritise the black people of this country,” the insider said.
The difficulty between Mavundla and the DA was later confirmed when he said it refused to give him a seat and the exco while the ANC was willing to make sacrifices.
The battle then moved to voting and even when the coalition of the opposition parties led by the DA, EFF and IFP was facing defeat, it pressed on with fielding Nicole Graham of the DA to take on Kaunda.
In the end, Kaunda won by notching 113 votes while Graham notched 104 votes, setting a scene of ANC jubilation inside the Durban ICC where the council sitting was conducted.
Kaunda smiled sheepishly while trying to contain his joy at being re-elected to the prestigious municipal position.
In his acceptance speech later, Kaunda vowed to work with all political parties to build a people-centred administration that is honest, accountable and responsive.
“As we hit the ground running, one of the urgent items in our order of business is a meeting with Umgeni Water to speedily resolve the current water challenge facing some parts of the city. We will also enhance our service delivery programmes such as Operation Sukuma Sakhe and Operation Good Hope where the Municipality leadership and operational teams visit service delivery hotspots every week to attend to challenges of refuse collection, water leaks, clearing of verges, illegal dumping sites, street lights, sewer spillages and pothole patching,” he said.
He also committed the city to work towards creating a positive investor climate to make eThekwini the preferred destination for visitors and investors.
In accepting defeat, Graham said some smaller parties sold out and she said she would return to playing an effective role of leading the opposition in the council.
“A few small parties, whose names you probably won’t even know, handed power back to the ANC in eThekwini. The IFP, EFF, DA, ACDP and ActionSA didn’t. Make no mistake, these guys have cash in their pockets and we will hold them accountable. I resume my role as leader of the opposition, leader of the DA in eThekwini and a member of the city’s exco.
“This remains a hung council and the DA will be the moderate, loud voice of the people that will often be needed to reach consensus. We will never stop fighting for you. Thank you all for your support,” she said.
When the turn to vote for the deputy mayor came, the ANC, much against fears that it may betray Mavundla, rewarded him by voting in block, giving him 113 votes to defeat the IFP’s Mdu Nkosi who was being backed by opposition parties.