KZN Premier Sihle Zikalala. File photo: Bongani Mbatha.

The newly inaugurated Premier of KZN, Sihle Zikalala, has assured millions of rattled eThekwini and Newcastle residents that they will continue to get municipal services due to them even after the abrupt suspension of their mayors.

Zikalala was responding to questions from the media on the sidelines of the first cabinet lekgotla for the sixth provincial cabinet which is expected to be in office for the 2019-2024 term. 

The suspended mayors are Zandile Gumede of eThekwini metro and Dr Ntuthuko Mahlaba of Newcastle in norther KZN.   

Zikalala says they would, as the provincial government, use the period of these suspensions to address several issues like non-collection of waste in Umlazi, eThekwini's biggest township with over 1 million people. 

In May, eThekwini had also to quell a labour unrest sparked by an irregular upgrading of salaries of former combatants of uMkhonto weSizwe (MK) by the metro's authorities. 

Metro workers blockaded the city centre and allegedly sabotaged the metro's water and power system to force authorities to upgrade to equal grades as the former combatants. 

"From government, we are working on ensuring that services are not disrupted, we are working on ensuring that we consolidate the functioning of municipalities to be effective, but to address all outstanding issues that they have. In eThekwini there were challenges of community affected by the disaster, community affected because of failure to deal with the issue of waste removal. We are all working with them on that and we will ensure that they are supported to provide services to all people," he said in Durban on Monday.  

While eThekwini mayor, Gumede, has agreed to temporarily step down for 30 days, from June 10, 2019, her Newcastle counterpart, Dr Mahlaba, who is facing murder charges, has allegedly somersaulted and refused to go on leave. 

He even reportedly snubbed the provincial working committee of the ANC in KZN when it called him to a meeting last week.

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