‘I have no beef with the mayor,’ says eThekwini city manager

eThekwini Mayor Mxolisi Kaunda (left) and City Manager Musa Mbhele. Picture: Thuli Dlamini

eThekwini Mayor Mxolisi Kaunda (left) and City Manager Musa Mbhele. Picture: Thuli Dlamini

Published Apr 3, 2024


By Zohra Teke

Embattled eThekwini city manager Musa Mbhele has denied rumours of a rift with city mayor Mxolisi Kaunda.

“What rift? I have full confidence in our mayor who I fully support and we work well together,” Mbhele said.

“There are people who want to see a destabilising metro and are driving divisions. The mayor is our political head and also at the forefront of transformation issues which I am 100% behind so how can we not work well?” said Mbhele when approached for comment.

But, some council insiders claim there is growing tension between the two men impacting service delivery issues in the city — an allegation denied too, by Kaunda.

"The city manager is the administrator, I am the political head. We work well professionally and there is absolutely no truth to us having any rift," Kaunda told IOL.

While some see the working relationship between the two men as a necessary collective as both are ANC members, opposition have called on both to be axed - blaming them for the city's problems which include recent strike action by municipal workers.

ActionSA KZN leader Zwakele Mncwango has repeatedly called on the municipality to be put under administration in a bid to restore city governance.

"The city manager and the mayor are fighting factions within the ANC who want to see them both out. It's this internal factionalism which is destroying the city," Mncwango told IOL.

The DA's eThekwini caucus leader Thabani Mthethwa agreed, and also hit out at smaller parties within council.

"Factionalism is one thing but we also have a challenge where smaller parties are not serving the interests of the city but themselves. There's been allegations that some of them are even being paid to vote with the ANC in council," said Mthethwa, who would not be drawn into naming them, citing lack of proof to substantiate the allegations.

Mbhele has dismissed this, saying opposition is simply trying to score political points.

"They act as if we are two men making all the decisions in the city. We have a full council which makes decisions. That council has these very parties who sit in and are part of the city's governance," added Mbhele.

But, he agreed he is fighting attempts to remove him from office.

"When you start disturbing the feeding trough of some people you will always become unpopular in some quarters. But I am here, focusing on my mandate to serve the city," he added.

Meanwhile, suspended head of the city's electricity unit, Maxwell Mthembu has taken his suspension to the Bargaining Council which is expected to hear his matter later this month.

Mthembu was suspended for allegedly failing to follow instructions to dismiss striking workers. He has denied the allegations and is challenging his suspension.