/ 10 July 2024

New Durban mayor Cyril Xaba commits to infrastructure repairs, restoring water supply

Cyril Xaba
New eThekwini mayor Cyril Xaba was sworn in after being elected unopposed at a special council sitting Wednesday. Photo: City of eThekwini

Newly-elected eThekwini mayor Cyril Xaba has promised to arrest the decline in the city’s infrastructure and to ensure residents an uninterrupted water supply in areas that have battled for the crucial resource for years.

Xaba was sworn in as mayor of eThekwini after being elected unopposed at a special council sitting convened at the Durban International Convention Centre on Wednesday.

Xaba, a former MP in the National Assembly and MEC for agriculture in KwaZulu-Natal, replaces Mxolisi Kaunda, who was recalled by the ANC on the eve of the 29 May elections.

A former planning commission member, Xaba has served in government since 1994 and was a member of the National Assembly at the time the ANC decided to redeploy him to the embattled city.

On Wednesday, he was nominated by eThekwini deputy mayor Zandile Myeni, who leads the National Freedom Party (NFP) in the city, and seconded by ANC deputy regional secretary Nkosenhle Madlala.

The Democratic Alliance (DA), which had previously fielded its own mayoral candidate, did not do so, an indication that the coalition between it and the ANC nationally is now filtering down to the city.

DA caucus leader Thabani Mthethwa declined nomination by ActionSA’s Zwakele Mncwango — an apparent attempt to put him and his party under the spotlight over the new relationship with the ANC in the city.

As a result, Xaba was elected unopposed, a significant milestone because the ANC region had previously opposed his nomination, preferring a number of candidates including former mayor James Nxumalo and former police minister Bheki Cele.

Cele, who served as the ANC eThekwini region’s first chairperson in the 1990s, was present at the council meeting in a display of support for Xaba, who acknowledged his presence in his acceptance speech.

Xaba described his election as a “baptism of fire” and said he was taking on the role “knowing very well the expectation that comes with the job”.

He said that in addition to addressing infrastructure problems, the immediate priorities for his administration would be creating a safe city; improving governance; fighting corruption; attracting investment and promoting an inclusive economy.

Xaba said Durban’s inner city would also receive attention, with a view to rejuvenating it and cleaning up the city centre.

He undertook to work with a series of intervention teams appointed by national and provincial governments to assist eThekwini in improving governance and service delivery.

These included the Section 139 team led by former city manager Mike Sutcliffe and former director general in the presidency Cassius Lubisi, with whom he would meet next week.

This intervention team had been blocked from doing its job last year by the ANC’s eThekwini councillors when it was first appointed, but it was re-appointed by the new cooperative governance and traditional affairs MEC, Thulasizwe Buthelezi, within days of his appointment.

Xaba said city employees would be expected to do their jobs and deliver services on behalf of eThekwini and to work with integrity.

“We will not tolerate people who do not want to work and those who pursue their   self-interests at the expense of the people of eThekwini,” he said.

“We will monitor performance of senior management to ensure that it is aligned to the objectives and key performance indicators that underpin our Integrated Development Plan.”