Durban - A special sitting of the eThekwini Municipality council on Thursday saw sweeping changes as the African National Congress (ANC) replaced its entire leadership in the city.
Held at the Durban City Hall, the proceedings were off to a shaky start as opposition parties continually raised procedural issues, but after seven hours the new leadership was elected, bringing to an end nearly four months of instability in the city.
Under the watchful eye of the deputy minister of trade and industry Nomalungelo Gina, ANC KZN deputy chairman Mike Mabuyakhulu, ANC provincial secretary Mdumiseni Ntuli, the MEC for cooperative governance and traditional affairs Sipho Hlomuka and acting provincial premier Ravi Pillay, the election saw the nomination of former MEC for transport Mxolisi Kaunda as mayor and former MEC for finance Belinda Scott as deputy. Weziwe Thusi, a former MEC for social development, was elected as speaker.
Their appointments were the result of a decision taken by the provincial ANC in August to remove mayor Zandile Gumede and the entire ANC leadership in the city, claiming they had been under-performing. None of the former leaders were, however, required to give up their seats as councillors.
The new appointments instead filled the seats of ANC PR councillors Nonkululeko Nxumalo, Bridget Ntshangase and Vuyiswa Caluza, who resigned.
The changes were sparked by the charging of Gumede and former executive councillor Mondli Mthembu on May 14 for their roles in an allegedly R208-million fraudulent tender involving the collection of refuse in Umlazi and other Durban townships.
Gumede was placed on indefinite leave by the ANC in June.
She refused to step down as late as Tuesday this week until the provincial ANC’s decision was upheld by the party's national office.
The opposition parties on Thursday unsuccessfully put up a candidate for each executive position, resulting in a lengthy voting process. The DA's nominations were its caucus leader Nicole Graham for mayor, DA councillor Thabani Mthethwa as deputy mayor and African Independent Congress councillor Khaya Mhlaba as chief whip.
Of the 203 votes cast, Kaunda received 108 and Scott 115, with 13 and seven spoilt votes respectively.
There were 122 voting ANC members present.
The new ANC members elected to the executive council are Ntokozo Sibiya, provincial ANC Youth League chairperson Thandoxolo Sabelo, Nompumelelo Sithole, Belinda Scott and Mxolisi Kaunda. The only ANC executive member from the previous leadership to remain in the top decision-making body was Sipho Kaunda.
The ex officio members are Sibongiseni Mkhize as chief whip and Thusi as speaker. The DA’s vacant seat on the executive council made vacant by Heinz de Boer, who has since moved to KZN Legislature, was filled by Yogiswarie Govender.
The council also elected former Inchanga ward councillor Dennis "Boy” Shozi as chairperson of the Municipal Public Accounts Committee.
In his first address to council, Kaunda said his election as mayor was a form of “a home coming to where I cut my teeth and within the walls of this iconic city hall”.
“We’ve taken an oath of office to lead the millions of people and we dare not disappoint. We must turn this city around. We have a task to restore the image of the city to its glory days. We need unity of purpose. We can only win the confidence of people we are leading if we are united.
"We call on all councillors to work with us to embark on a journey to reposition eThekwini. We will not tolerate non-compliance and disregard of laws that govern this city. All departments in the administration must work together and put an end to the silo mentality,” said Kaunda.
He said at the top of the council's agenda was a clear plan to address crime, refuse removal, water and electricity supply, a proper billing system, dealing with dilapidated buildings, storm water systems, safe and affordable public transport and social cohesion.
African News Agency (ANA)