Riotous new era

2011-06-03 00:00

IT’S official: the new Msunduzi Mayor is Chris Ndlela, his deputy is the former council speaker, Alpha Shelembe, and the new speaker is the former executive committee (Exco) member Zonke Mbatha.

The three, together with the new council whip, Thobani Zuma, were inaugurated at the city hall yesterday.

The MECs for Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) and Finance, Nomusa Dube and Ina Cronjé, were present during the inauguration.

Outside the city hall protests against the inauguration gridlocked the CBD traffic.

Inside there were some stunned reactions at the announcement that Shelembe — who was demoted from his position as speaker when the municipality was placed under administration — is to be the new deputy mayor.

Shelembe’s appointment and that of former Exco member Zonke Mbatha — who also had to step down — overshadowed the announcement of the new mayor.

Most of the new Exco members are ANC councillors, namely Ndlela, Shelembe, former deputy mayor Jabu Ngubo, ward 34 councillor Eunice Majola, former speaker Babu Baijoo, former ward 31 councillor Manilal Indirjit (whose ward was lost to the Democratic Alliance during the May 18 elections) and Tholakele Dlamini, who was demoted from Exco and is the former ward 19 councillor.

The National Freedom Party named Patrick Bhengu as its Exco member.

The DA failed to announce the two names of its councillors who will be Exco members. The DA will submit the names of its Exco councillors within the next 14 days.

When asked about the delay, KZN DA leader Sizwe Mchunu said that the names of the Exco members were yet to be approved by the party’s federal executive.

Outside the city hall, meanwhile, a group of demonstrators protested the appointment of Shelembe and Zuma to key positions, saying they regard them as the “mafia” leaders of the ANC’s Moses Mabhida regional executive committee (REC).

The anti-Shelembe group failed to bring in the 1 500 protesters they had promised. Fewer than 50 people arrived outside city hall.

Matching them were REC supporters, who also numbered fewer than 50.

A police contingent monitoring the situation fired at least three stun grenades when the two groups started throwing stones at the police and tomatoes at each other.

The stun grenades dispersed the protesters without any injuries reported.

Inside the city hall proceedings went on unhindered by the shouting and shooting.

Some ANC members and REC protesters observed that virtually the same leaders who were present when the city’ administration collapsed had been re-elected.

The new mayor, Ndlela, vowed to get the city back on its feet, saying the municipality will put the residents first.

In his speech, deputy mayor Shelembe said, “I don’t have too many words. I am humbled that the ANC has so much faith in me despite so much humiliation in the media.”

The new speaker, Mbatha, said that under her leadership the council will try to be vibrant and to make sound resolutions. The whip, Zuma, said he will work harmoniously with all parties.

Cogta MEC Dube said that after all that has happened in the recent past, she is proud and relieved that Msunduzi is enjoying a rebirth.

“Just like in any family, when a child is born, family members rejoice and welcome the new gift. And so we are happy to welcome the new leadership. But in saying hello to all of you, it becomes enormously important to remind one another as to where we come from. We gather here today against a very sad past.”

Before the intervention, said Dube, the capital declined bit by bit to the point where it was no longer able to even collect rubbish from around the streets.

“There were moments when we virtually failed to pay staff their hard-earned salaries. What was once the crown jewel of all of us as residents of this province had crumbled to the point where the capital had been reduced to a playing field for corruption, fraud, mismanagement and non-activity in the form of service delivery.

“The provincial capital’s administrative and governance arms had become so weak that they no longer could carry out their responsibilities.”

Dube said now is the time to begin the process of ensuring that the will of the people is reflected in Msunduzi.

Listing her expectations, she said, “What we have seen happening in recent years here in Msunduzi must be something that we should all ensure that is averted at all costs … This time around we hope that we will not have any reason to make any interventions into municipalities …”

Opposition parties in the council assured the new council leadership that they will work with them to improve the city. 

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