Durban - Opposition party councillors gathered at Durban's city hall on Tuesday morning to call for the firing of eThekwini’s African National Congress (ANC) mayor, Zandile Gumede, accusing her of bringing the city to the brink of collapse.
About 80 councillors from the Democratic Alliance (DA) and Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) set up outside the hall in a move to "save the city" before making their way to a full council meeting to deal with, amongst other issues, an "exodus" of senior staff from the Metro.
DA KZN leader Zwakele Mncwango said that numerous decisions made by Gumede had led to the exodus because her leadership was based on factional affiliations.
"When you have a bus with a factory fault, you can change the driver, but the bus will remain faulty," he said, referring to Gumede replacing former city mayor James Nxumalo last year in the local elections.
Nxumalo was and remains in the camp of the South African Community Party and it is alleged that many of those being "purged" are remnants of his camp.
"We strongly believe that if we stand united, we can remove this ANC cancer of corruption from the municipality," said Mncwango, whose words were echoed by IFP eThekwini leader, Mdu Nkosi.
Gumede's purge started in December last year with city manager Sbu Sithole. The mayor said he had left of his own volition, but Sithole denied this publicly, saying he was forced out.
Gumede countered by saying that senior officials who had resigned did so to pursue better opportunities.
According to an email released by the city at midnight on Monday, new city manager Sipho Nzuza clarified who had left and why at a special council meeting on the same day.
Deputy manager of health, safety and security, Dr Musa Gumede, was leaving of his own accord and would be taking up a position in the provincial health department.
Head of the city’s legal and compliance unit, Nokhana Moerane, resigned in April "without indicating her reasons".
Ntokozo Zungu, a manager in the city manager’s office, resigned due to personal reasons.
Nzuza said while there were allegations that chief audit executive Phillip Ntsimane had left the City and would be taking up a position in Tshwane from 1 August, he had not received a resignation letter from Ntsimane, the statement added.
"The same can be said for Sugen Moodley, a senior manager at the Municipal Learning Institute. While he would be pursuing a position in academia, Nzuza said he has not received a resignation letter from Moodley," according to the release.
Metro Police head Eugene Nzama was taking early retirement, according to Nzuza.
Nzuza said here had also been three suspensions. The city’s health unit head, Dr Nomakhosi Gxagxisa, head of parks, recreation and culture, Thembinkosi Ngcobo, and Metro Police project executive Nhlanhla Mthethwa were all facing charges of misconduct.
Head of electricity, Sandile Maphumulo, was dismissed following a disciplinary hearing for "serious charges of misconduct", according to Nzuza.
"The Auditor General was clear that eThekwini must have a clear consequence management plan," Gumede said at the special council meeting.
"It is unfortunate and opportunistic for people to go to the media and speak about purging when we implement laws. The ANC gave us the mandate to take harsh steps against corruption because people were saying we are too soft.
"We will not hide or protect people who are not doing their jobs. We will not allow anyone to sabotage us and use his or her position in the municipality to sabotage the city," she said.
- African News Agency (ANA)