The ANC was able to hold on to eThekwini when Mxolisi Kaunda won the tight mayoral race. Picture: African News Agency (ANA)
The ANC was able to hold on to eThekwini when Mxolisi Kaunda won the tight mayoral race. Picture: African News Agency (ANA)

Sharp divisions among eThekwini metro parties enabled ANC to retain the city

By Sihle Mavuso Time of article published Nov 26, 2021

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Durban - A new set of issues has been cited as to why the pendulum on Wednesday swung in favour of the ANC to snatch the eThekwini metro from the DA and IFP.

Early this week when the eThekwini Municipality sat for the first time after the November 1 local government elections to elect political office bearers, the sitting was adjourned due to an unexplained power failure and a security breach by ANC supporters.

Although the ANC was by then able to ram through the election of Thabani Nyawose as the speaker of the council, there was a risk of losing because minority parties, joined by the IFP and the EFF, resolved to support the candidacy of Nicole Graham, the leader of the caucus.

Graham was to take on Mxolisi Kaunda.

The council reconvened on Wednesday and the ANC retained the municipality as it was able to notch more votes than its competitors. Its victory has been widely attributed to the sudden decision by Philani Mavundla, the resident of the ABC (Abantu Bath Congress), who with his two seats and nine other minority parties joined forces with the ANC to block the DA.

Accepting defeat, Graham took to social media and alleged that there had been an exchange of money that led to the smaller parties to change their plans.

“Make no mistake, these guys have cash in their pockets and we will hold them accountable,” she said.

Earlier in the day, similar claims were made by the EFF. But Mavundla, a millionaire who owns malls and office parks, dismissed that, saying buying him would be “too expensive”.

Giving a much more telling interview on the sidelines of the sitting, Mavundla said having a white mayor would have been a nightmare, so he decided to join forces with the ANC. He said black people would come first.

In all this, Mavundla never revealed what exactly went down during the negotiations. But Visvin Reddy, the founder of ADEC (African Democratic Change) yesterday gave a glimpse of what happened.

He claimed that some of the reasons minority parties like ADEC, ABC, DLC (Democratic Liberal Congress) and ATM dumped the DA were because of its “arrogance and disrespect towards us”. Furthermore, he claimed they wanted the DA to change Graham and field either Yogas Govender or Thabani Mthethwa (both DA councillors), and it refused.

“We also wanted the DA to reconsider their decision to field Nicole as she is not the brightest among them; she is also arrogant and disrespectful. They flatly refused. Now, it would have also not been a smart move to field a white person to be mayor in a city like Durban,” he claimed.

The chairperson of the DA in KwaZulu-Natal, Dean Macpherson, denied Reddy’s claims and said it was impossible to remove Graham as she had been democratically elected by the DA caucus and doing so would have gone against a democratic decision.

“He is creating a diversion for hurting the many people who voted for him, to only hand them to the ANC … Graham was democratically elected by the caucus of the DA and we would not remove her. This was not a personality issue, all that we wanted was to remove a corrupt party from power,” Macpherson said in response to Reddy.

Patrick Pillay, the leader of DLC, said the issue of Graham as a candidate was raised but it was never a stumbling block. He said according to his understanding, minority parties were against the DA working with the EFF when it had previously said it was not going to do so.

“I think the issue was the DA working with the EFF, that is how I understand it,” he said.

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Political Bureau

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