Pietermaritzburg mayor confident that attempts to remove him will fail
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Pietermaritzburg residents and opposition political parties are in full support of a motion of no confidence in ANC Mayor Mzi Thebolla put forward by the DA this week.
But the mayor has labelled the move “petty politicking” and a popularity stunt masked as concern for residents.
The DA has cited failure in fulfilment of the mayoral mandate and lack of political will and leadership to deal with the malfunctioning municipality, as grounds for Thebolla to go.
The party has proposed that the motion be tabled and voted upon through a secret ballot at a full council meeting scheduled to take place on Wednesday.
Ross Strachan, chairperson of the DA Msunduzi caucus claimed that Thebolla did not contribute to the enhancement or fulfilment of the objectives of local government, as required by the Constitution.
He further listed poor service delivery, lack of municipal financial management and guidance as additional negative factors keeping the municipality under administration.
“Huge water leakages all over Msunduzi, shortages in water, sewage pollution even close to schools, potholes, street lights not working, problems pertaining to refuse collection, lack of traffic calming measures, traffic lights not working, inefficient call centre and limited reaction to complaints results in lack of service delivery.”
Anthony Waldhausen, chairperson of the Msunduzi Association of Residents, Ratepayers and Civics (MARCC) said that although they were apolitical, any move toward a more efficiently run Msunduzi would be welcomed.
“Msunduzi is plagued by multiple challenges and needs strong and decisive leadership and political will to move the municipality out of administration.
“Change in leadership makes no difference if these challenges are not addressed simultaneously. MARRC is dismayed at the situation we are in, and being under administration hasn’t changed or improved matters. It is time for the MEC of Cogta to dissolve the municipality, and let it be run by an administration with a wide range of powers to bring about much needed change,” Waldhausen said.
Prince Duma, EFF councillor said they would be supporting the motion. He said although the term of the current administration was coming to an end, a change in leadership would make a difference, even though change would only be visible later.
“By Monday our stand will be clearer, we will know exactly which direction we are going,” he said.
Melanie Veness, chief executive officer of the Pietermaritzburg and Midlands Chamber of Business, said Msunduzi had been under partial administration for the second time in ten years, and that the focus should be on restoring the city.
“The municipality is in serious trouble. At the moment business is not getting the services that they need. Intervention so far has not been effective. If steps had to be taken, it would be our position to place the municipality under full administration,” she said.
Mayoral spokesperson, Zazi Nxele said the move by the DA was not about prioritising the needs of the residents.
“The DA has a constitutional right and privileges to do what they want to do, but we believe that this is petty politicking. Ever since the mayor came into office he has had an open door policy and has been transparent,” said Nxele.
“The mayor has prioritised service delivery and we believe that he has done his bit. If the DA wants to bring this motion, they must bring it on, it’s not the first time, they will fail again,” he said.
Nxele conceded that there had been complaints and dissatisfaction from residents, but said Thebolla had been proactive, visiting many wards to listen to residents to try resolve issues.
“The DA is trying to gain popularity. We are saying come the day, they will be defeated because people have faith in what the mayor is doing,” he said.