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Durban’s new Deputy Mayor Zandile Myeni

eThekwini Municipality newly elected Deputy Mayor Zandile Myeni. Picture: Thuli Dlamini

eThekwini Municipality newly elected Deputy Mayor Zandile Myeni. Picture: Thuli Dlamini

Published Feb 5, 2023


Durban - A little-known NFP proportional representative councillor, Zandile Myeni, has been appointed deputy mayor of eThekwini Municipality.

Myeni, 41, of uMlazi was elected during a special full council meeting on Friday to fill the position that had been vacant since December after the removal of ABC president Philani Mavundla.

Myeni, the NFP provincial secretary who is the only member of the NFP in eThekwini, received 128 votes, beating Mdu Nkosi of the IFP who drew 87 votes. She was supported by the ANC and a bloc of smaller parties including the EFF to take up the position.

The meeting got off to a rocky start as the opposition called for Mayor Mxolisi Kaunda’s head through a motion of no confidence.

The Speaker, Thabani Nyawose, eventually passed the motion, but Kaunda survived and the council moved to vote for Myeni as deputy mayor. While little is known of Myeni in eThekwini, she said she has been involved in politics since she was a student.

Speaking to the Sunday Tribune soon after being appointed to the position, Myeni confessed that she had never thought she would become a deputy mayor, let alone in a metropolitan municipality, given the size of her party.

The NFP, an IFP-breakaway party, was formed by the late Zanele Magwaza-Msibi after she had a fallout with the IFP leaders in 2011. Myeni is also a former IFP member who served in its student wing, Sadesmo, and youth brigade as a chairperson.

While the NFP had massive support in its early days, it dwindled over the years and has been embroiled in internal battles. However, Myeni was optimistic that she would hit the ground running and would bring change to eThekwini. Myeni said she would be the voice of the smaller parties, not only the NFP.

She believed that she had enough experience and capacity to serve as the second-in-command in the city, having served in various positions within her party. Myeni, a former teacher, unionist and women rights activist, joined the council in 2011 as PR (proportional respresentative) councillor.

She said as the provincial secretary of the NFP she got to monitor councillors where she got a chance to understand the municipal systems. “Yes, eThekwini has got its dynamics, which are complex compared to other municipalities. However, all municipalities are governed by the (Municipal) Structures Act.

eThekwini Mayor Mxolisi Kaunda and his newly elected deputy Zandile Myeni during full council meeting at the Durban ICC. Picture: Thuli Dlamini

I have identified that as councillors, particularly from smaller parties, the time has come for us to rise above petty issues. Whether you have one or two seats, people trust you to make the change.

That’s why we decided to form a bloc to make our voice louder,” she said. eThekwini has had unstable governance which led to the removal of Mavundla by the ANC. Mavundla had a fallout with Kaunda which played out in public and they were not on speaking terms.

Myeni said she would strive for stability to ensure service delivery continued and that there was cooperation among different parties. She said infrastructure such as roads and lights would be her priority. “Apart from the load shedding, the street lights in eThekwini are dark.

Part of the reason we have a high level of crime is that our city is too dark, and street lights are not working. People are attacked in the township, I think these are some of the things the City has the capacity to deal with,” she said.

Speaking about her relationship with the ANC, Myeni refuted claims that she was in cahoots with the ruling party and insisted that she would not be a puppet. “I think we need to understand that coalitions are becoming a common thing across municipalities in the country.

I am willing to represent the smaller parties and contribute meaningfully. We will hold the ruling party accountable where we have to, but the most important thing is to play our role,” she said. Myeni as a deputy mayor will become part of the executive committee. The City is yet to announce which committee she would chair