Race on for city mayor

2011-05-23 00:00

CHRIS Ndlela, the KwaZulu-Natal chairperson of the Congress of SA Trade Unions (Cosatu), could be Msunduzi's next mayor.

While the ANC is still to announce who it will choose as mayor, speculation is rife that the amiable Ndlela, a former school principal, is the most likely candidate to take the hot seat.

Ndlela was principal of Esther Payne Smith (EPS) High School in the northern suburbs and is respected in both teaching and political circles.

He is regarded as a unifier who will not only help mend bridges with the ANC’s alliance partners, but will also be respected by the different communities in the city.

A more important reason for his being chosen is that he is expected, as chairperson of Cosatu, to get the co-operation of municipal union, Samwu. The union has been blamed for many of the service delivery woes at the municipality, the most recent being the reluctance to work on refuse collection because of a lack of overtime pay.

However, another contender for the mayoral position could be the incumbent deputy mayor, Jabu Ngubo, given that the ANC Women’s League has been complaining that not enough women are being considered as mayoral candidates.

The present mayor, Mike Tarr, has also not been ruled out given the votes lost by the ANC in minority communities. The party may consider it strategic to keep him on.

The number one candidate on the ANC’s proportional representative (PR) list, Thobani Zuma, is expected to become the speaker at Msunduzi. However, this is not certain as Zuma is currently a member of the party’s regional executive committee (REC).

Speculation prior to last Wednesday’s election was that members of the REC could be asked to resign given the mess that was made of the candidate selection process.

With the ANC’s overall win in the municipality, all may be forgiven. If Zuma is dropped, current speaker Babu Baijoo may be retained. This could also be a way for the ANC to project its non-racial image.

The mayoral candidate for the uMgungundlovu District Municipality is expected to be MPL Sipho Gcabashe. Speculation was that the only reason his name was included on the district’s PR list is that he was brought in to be the next mayor, as it is unusual for an MPL to step down to become an ordinary councillor in a district municipality.

Current mayor Yusuf Bhamjee is expected to return to the legislature, atlthough some believe Bhamjee would remain as mayor and Gcabashe stay on as an MPL. The ANC is not expected to name its mayoral candidates and executive committee members before next Tuesday, which will be the day before the council is inaugurated on Wednesday, June 1.

Meanwhile, the Independent Electoral Commission has finalised its calculations on the number of proportional representative (PR) councillors each party will have on the council.

The ANC will have 21 PR councillors, the Democratic Alliance six, the National Freedom Party four, the Inkatha Freedom PArty four and the Minority Front one.

The African Christian Democratic Party lost the only PR seat it had in Msunduzi.

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