KZN Premier Sihle Zikalala. Picture: Sibonelo Ngcobo/African News Agency (ANA)

Durban - Sihle Zikalala, the new premier of KwaZulu-Natal, will officially begin his five-year term on Monday buoyed by news that murder-accused Newcastle mayor Ntuthuko Mahlaba will soon vacate his mayoral office while clearing his name.

His ascension to the highest office in the province comes with his party on the verge of forcing corruption- and fraud-accused eThekwini mayor Zandile Gumede to vacate office while also fighting to clear her name. Gumede is still mulling requests by the province to leave office and focus on her case.

Zikalala will officially take the oath of office in Pietermaritzburg on Monday. In his acceptance speech on Wednesday last week, at the provincial legislature, he said his administration would spend the coming five years fighting “crime and corruption”.

Confirming the news that Mahlaba had finally acceded to calls to step down to save the image of the ANC, provincial spokesperson Nomagugu Simelane-Zulu said Mahlaba was in constant talks with provincial secretary Mdumiseni Ntuli, and he had finally asked to be given time to deal with his matter outside the mayoral office.

Mahlaba had previously refused to step down, alleging that he was being framed by his political opponents.

The regional secretary of eMalahleni, Chris Mhlophe, said on Sunday that although Mahlaba had asked to be excused, he was still in office until further notice.

When pressed about the exact date of the pending resignation, he said Mahlaba was on leave and refused to say whom they had earmarked as a replacement.

Mahlaba is accused of the 2016 murder of Wandile Ngubeni and the attempted murder of Mafika Mndebele.

Political Bureau