An elective council sitting yesterday saw the election of Mxolisi Kaunda as Mayor, Belinda Scott as Deputy Mayor, Weziwe Thusi as Speaker and Sibongiseni Mkhize as Chief Whip.
A further five Councillors, including the DA’s Yogis Govender, were elected to fill vacancies on the Executive Committee.
Many of the elections were closed, including that of the Mayor, who only received 108 votes to the DA’s 82. With 122 ANC Councillors present, it is clear that the ANC in eThekwini is not a united and coherent team.
The last three years have been difficult ones for the eThekwini Municipality. An ANC-led cabal, intent on looting and collapsing the municipality for their own ends, has ensured service delivery and growth is at an all-time low in the city.
Many members of that cabal, including the 62 Councillors named in Zandile Gumede’s court trial and many municipal officials, remain in the Council. The DA won’t rest until they’ve also been held accountable and fired from their positions. The complex and intricate web of corruption in this city is very much still in place.
We welcome the proposal by Mayor Mxolisi Kaunda to have a complete overhaul and strategic plan for the way forward. This process must include all members of the Executive Committee if it is to be successful, and we will contribute to the best of our knowledge and ability,
The DA has repeatedly said that anyone who puts the best interests of the people of eThekwini first will have our full support. In that regard, there are three urgent priorities that we believe need to be addressed.
The first is the improvement of basic services, which have deteriorated rapidly under Zandile Gumede’s leadership. The capture of basic line departments for political gain has left Durban filthy, crumbling and unsafe. People need dignified and efficient basic services as a matter of urgency.
The second is the health of the city’s finances. We have seen a steady increase in irregular expenditure, a decrease in revenue and an increase in debt. There has to be consequences for officials and politicians who waste and misuse public money and a serious attempt to recover debt owing to the municipality.
Much of this comes from parastatals and the provincial government, which we hope Mayor Kaunda will focus on.
Lastly, there has to be a serious focus on the outstanding City Integrity and Investigation Unit reports and the implementation of consequence management.
Hundreds of reports,which implicate officials and politicians, are lying around municipal offices and have never been attended to. Corruption has become widespread in eThekwini, and action has to be taken against those responsible.
Durbanites are in desperate need of hope and change, and this is the burden of the city’s new leadership. It can’t be business as usual after the previous ANC administration has brought eThekwini to its knees.
Yesterday’s vote bodes well for 2021, where the DA plans to work with opposition parties to bring in a new government in eThekwini.
The DA has proved in metros throughout the country that we can deliver better services and grow the economy for all, and we plan to do that in eThekwini too.
We will keep fighting for a better future for all residents of this beautiful city.