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22 Aug 2019 18:14
New Durban mayor Mxolisi Kaunda (left). (Gallo)
KwaZulu-Natal public safety and transport MEC Mxolisi Kaunda is the new mayor of Durban.
Kaunda was appointed by the African National Congress (ANC) KwaZulu-Natal leadership on Thursday — with former finance MEC Belinda Scott as his deputy — at a media briefing in Durban.
The announcement was delayed by nearly four hours as the party’s leadership held last minute talks to finalise their line up to lead the eThekwini Metro and Msunduzi Local Municipality.
Last week, the party recalled its deployees to both councils, including Durban mayor Zandile Gumede, ending a two month stand off between her backers and the provincial leadership.
Provincial secretary Mdumiseni Ntuli announced that former social development MEC Weziwe Thusi would be appointed as eThekwini speaker.
Ward 22 councillor Sibongiseni Mkhize, who is a member of the regional task team appointed to replace the eThekwini regional executive committee, will become ANC chief whip in council.
Pietermaritzburg’s new mayor is Mzimkhulu Thobella, currently an ANC MPL in the provincial legislature.
The two executive committees were redeployed after an assessment by the provincial leadership over the collapse of the two councils. While Gumede had been suspended over her arrest on corruption charges related to a R208-million waste removal contract, she was removed from office over poor performance. The move allowed the ANC to deflect arguments by her supporters — who held a number of violent protests after her arrest — that she was being purged for opposing the sitting provincial executive committee, and for her backing of former president Jacob Zuma.
Ntuli said the party had decided to act against a number of ANC members, including councillors, from both municipalities over their involvement in a series of violent protests against its decisions.
In Durban, 10 of Gumede backers have been suspended, including Ward 1 chairperson Mbongi Hlongwa, Ward 15 secretary and councillor Nada Ngcobo and Mthokozisi Nojiyeza, the Ward 80 councillor who was recently released from custody after being arrested for the murder of ANC councillor S’bu Maphumulo.
Ntuli said that the group had made “concerted efforts not only to undermine the elected leadership of the organisation, but also wilfully disregard its image and standing in society”.
In Pietermaritzburg, four councillors aligned with the suspended regional executive committee who had been involved in marches and disrupting ANC meetings were suspended.
Ntuli said the ANC was busy with the nitty gritty of the placements and that the two councils would hold their first meetings of their new executive committees by the end of next week.
Provincial chairperson and premier Sihle Zikalala said they believed the new city leaderships had the capacity to implement turn around programmes in the two councils, which had collapsed administratively, and get them back on track.
Read more from Paddy Harper
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