The Msunduzi Municipality is without political leadership following the ANC Provincial Executive Committee’s (PEC) decision to remove Mayor Themba Njilo and the entire executive committee (Exco).It had been expected that Njilo, his deputy Thobani Zuma, the speaker, and ANC members serving on Exco would be allowed to hold on to their positions until their replacements had been found.However, the ANC provincial leadership has made it clear that the axing was with immediate effect.Briefing the media in Durban yesterday, ANC provincial secretary Mdumiseni Ntuli said Njilo and other ANC members serving in the municipality’s top structure alongside their counterparts in the eThekwini Municipality, had already been told to vacate their offices with immediate effect.“The PEC decided that all ANC members serving in the Executive Committees of eThekwini and Msunduzi municipalities, respectively, should with immediate effect be redeployed.“We held a meeting with them in the ANC province office today [yesterday] where they were informed about the PEC’s decision. I must say the meeting we had with the comrades was inspiring,” he said.The PEC’s decision, Ntuli said, will not affect service delivery as management would continue operating as normal. On where Njilo and senior ANC members serving in the Exco would be deployed, Ntuli said they will become ordinary councillors.“As indicated earlier, the PEC agreed that the continuous and sustained decline of the quality of service delivery in our two biggest cities of eThekwinii and uMsunduzi require urgent attention.“The PEC also accepted that perhaps some of the comrades perform better as councillors and not in the senior positions in which they had been deployed,” he said.It took the PEC four days of debate to come to the decision that the top leadership of Msunduzi and eThekwini should be axed — sparking rumours that Durban mayorZandile Gumede’s supporters had put up a strong fight.However, Ntuli denied that there were disagreements within the PEC. “We were completely unanimous in that decision. What came out clearly during the deliberations was that the decision was not about members of the ANC — it was about the future of these two cities.“What has been happening at the two municipalities made our commitment to build a better life a farce,” he said.Ntuli also denied rumours that the provincial leadership has already identified a number of ANC members in the Moses Mabhida region who will replace Njilo and other senior ruling party leaders who had been serving in the Exco.“We have never contacted anybody. The top five officials are meeting tomorrow [today] to deal with the issue of vacancies. We would like to assure residents of the affected municipalities that only those individuals who are up to the task would be considered — whoever will be the new mayor must hit the ground running,” he said.While the PEC cited poor performance as the main factor that led to the decision to remove Msunduzi’s top leadership, there have been perceptions that Gumede was removed because of the ongoing criminal case against her.However, Ntuli said the issue of ANC mayors facing criminal charges was currently being handled by the ruling party’s Provincial Working Committee (PWC). “The decision to remove the eThekwini mayor was solely based on the assessment of the municipality’s performance,” he said.The ANC process of appointing a mayor requires that the ruling party’s Moses Mabhida regional leadership sends three names to the top five provincial leadership — which then chooses a single name out of the three candidates.