Pretoria - The installation of the newly-elected Tshwane mayor Dr Murunwa Makwarela has been greeted with mixed reaction from political parties in council and municipal workers.
While Makwarela has vowed to work together with all parties in council, he was labelled “Judas” by the Freedom Front Plus.
Party caucus leader Grandi Theunissen accused him of betraying the trust of coalition partners by backing down on his promise to support the mayoral candidacy of Cilliers Brink.
Makwarela pulled a surprise move when he accepted a nomination openly supported by the ANC, ATM and EFF.
ANC and EFF councillors chant Tuesday during the election of Dr Murunwa Makwarela as City of Tshwane mayor @CityTshwane @GautengANC @EFFSouthAfrica #Tshwane #TshwaneMayor #Murunwa pic.twitter.com/FH4iToshe8— Pretoria News (@pretorianews) March 1, 2023
Theunissen said: “I find it hard to believe the promises you made here today (Tuesday). The reason I say that is because a week ago; you aligned yourself with the coalition. You made promises and you committed yourself and what did you do today? From this day on I will recognise you as ‘Judas’ Makwarela.”
While congratulating him, ActionSA warned him of the bumpy road ahead, saying his new responsibilities won’t be a walk in the park.
Party caucus leader Anniruth Kissoonduth said: “From the outset I would like to say - executive mayor - that it is not going to be an easy task. The baton that you have been given now you will have to do a lot more changes to make the ship sail again. You are now the captain of the ship and to make the ship sail you will have to seek divine intervention.
“You will have to seek the Lord’s knowledge, wisdom and understanding to help you and guide you to continue to help the city of ours.”
ANC in Tshwane said it “gleefully welcomes” the mayor-elect and impressed upon Makwarela “to hit the ground running and fix the mess that the embattled former mayor left in his wake”.
“The new government of local unity must now deal with the backlog of service delivery issues that have plagued the townships of the City; from the water crisis that has engulfed the residents of Bronkhorstspruit and Hammanskraal to the sanitation crisis in Mamelodi, Ga-Rankuwa, Mabopane and Soshanguve,” the party said.
The South African Municipal Workers’ Union (Samwu) in Tshwane said it noted the election of Makwarela after former mayor Randall Williams’ resignation following a damning audit finding that showed irregular and wasteful expenditure totalling R10 billion.
“It is our belief that the newly elected executive mayor of the City of Tshwane will deliver a people centred government which will be in the best interest of Tshwane residents,” the union said.
The union said the mayor must address issues such as the outstanding 3.5% salary increase owed to workers and the outstanding 9.5% in respect of benchmarking.
EFF regional leader Obakeng Ramabodu said: “We wish you luck and we can’t wait to see you interact with communities and make sure that city is safe and it goes to at least the city that is a capital city.”
In his acceptance speech, Makwarela outlined his service delivery priorities, which include rebuilding “the broken City of Tshwane”.
“The recent findings by the AG that led to an adverse opinion have awakened all of us. We will not lose sight of the fact that this city is not a going concern as the AG remarked,” he said.
He cited the city was faced with R11.4 billion of debts and a municipal debtors’ book was in a state of a mess.
He vowed to enhance basic service delivery and work together with all political parties, including Gauteng Premier Panyaza Lesufi, President Cyril Ramaphosa and the private sector.
He said he would put a team together to assess the city’s financial situation immediately and make sure that his administration was transparent, accountable and objective.
Soon, he said, he would appoint his mayoral committee from parties represented in council.
“For this reason I will be embarking on a wild consultation drive with leaders of all political parties represented in council before I announce my mayoral committee members,” Makwarela said.
The DA in Gauteng said while it acknowledged the legitimate election of a new executive mayor it condemned “the underhanded dealings by which the ANC-EFF coalition of corruption and chaos recaptured control of the City”.