Mzi to lead Msunduzi

2019-08-23 14:30
Msunduzi’s new mayor, Mzimkhulu Thebolla.

Msunduzi’s new mayor, Mzimkhulu Thebolla.

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The ANC KwaZulu-Natal leadership, which announced former Msunduzi councillor Mzimkhulu Thebolla as the new mayor of the municipality, has described him as a committed leader with a deep understanding of the council’s priorities.

Announcing the new mayor during a press briefing in Durban, ANC provincial chairperson Sihle Zikalala said while some local residents may not be familiar with Thebolla, he had been a great behind-the-scenes operator with an exceptional ability to deliver. Thebolla is currently employed by the KZN Provincial Legislature.

“He might not have been exposed to the public but he served in various structures of local governments in the Moses Mabhida region and the ANC.

“The new mayor is familiar with the dynamics and work currently being done to turn around the municipality — he will hit the ground running,” he said.

Thebolla, who is also a member of the ANC Moses Mabhida Regional Task Team (RTT), has been appointed as part of sweeping changes made by the party’s provincial leadership following a number of delivery challenges encountered by Msunduzi during the tenure of axed mayor Themba Njilo.

The ANC provincial leadership also announced two Msunduzi councillors, Manilal Inderjit and Eunice Majola, as deputy mayor and speaker, respectively. Inderjit will be replacing axed Msunduzi deputy mayor Thobani Zuma and Majola replaces speaker Jabu Ngubo, who, like Zuma and Ngubo, was axed for poor performance.

Deputy mayor Manilal Inderjit.

The appointment of new leaders in Msunduzi Municipality coincided with the ANC provincial leadership’s announcement that Community Safety MEC Mxolisi Kaunda will be the new mayor of the eThekwini Municipality. Former Finance MEC Belinda Scott will be eThekwini’s new deputy mayor while the former Social Development MEC Weziwe Thusi will be the new speaker.

ANC provincial secretary Mdumiseni Ntuli said the two teams that had been appointed to the Msunduzi and eThekwini municipalities were appointed after careful consideration of the needs of the two local governments.

“We are announcing a team of capable men and women who are tasked with the fundamental task to improve the capacity of the two cities to meet the expectations of our people. The ANC provincial working committee (PWC) calls on the citizens of both eThekwini and Msunduzi municipalities to give support to the incoming leadership and work closely with them to ensure the triumph of the people’s cause,” he said.

Msunduzi speaker Eunice Majola-Zondi.

The appointments were made amid intense infighting within the ANC in the Moses Mabhida region, which includes the Msunduzi Municipality.

One of the main reasons that led to the axed leadership’s failure to deliver was the fact that the leaders had been working against each other.

In what appears to be a bid to end the infighting and ensure the new leaders work towards a common objective, the ANC provincial leadership also announced the suspension from the party of a number of ANC leaders in the region.

Msunduzi councillor Nontuthuko Ngcongo and uMngeni Local Municipality councillor Sthembiso Nkuna — who early in the week led a protest march by ANC rebels who demonstrated outside the ANC regional offices in Pietermaritzburg — are among those who have been suspended.

Chief whip Vusi Ntshangase.

The ANC provincial leadership’s announcements were made on the back of speculation that the problems with the region and Msunduzi ANC caucus had resulted in high profile candidates, including former Communications minister Yunus Carrim, declining to take the Msunduzi mayoral position.

While Ntuli conceded that the provincial leadership had consultations “with various ANC leaders”, he denied those who could not take up the offer had cited problems with the ANC and Msunduzi Municipality.

New leaders will do best not to disappoint

The City’s new first citizen, Mzi Thebolla, said he was humbled by the confidence that the ANC showed in him and thanked the organisation for the opportunity to serve it in Msunduzi’s council.

“I will do my best not to disappoint the people of Msunduzi.”

His deputy, Manilal Inderjit, said the appointment came as a great surprise.

He said was committed and would be accountable to the residents of the City, doing everything within his means “to make sure that the people of Msunduzi get the quality service delivery that they deserve”.

Commenting on his appointment, Vusi Ntshangase, Msunduzi’s incoming chief whip, said it is a big task, but he is excited to be given this opportunity and to serve specifically Msunduzi’s residents.

Ntshangase will succeed outgoing chief whip Truman Magubane. Ntshangase hails from Esigodini near Edendale and is the current regional chairperson of the South African National Civic Organisation (Sanco) and a former regional chairperson of the ANCYL.

“My major priorities will include the [ANC] party’s positive vision to create an environment for unity and delivered better services. My humble life experiences allow me to understand the challenges faced by the City and the required solutions to tackle them.”

While Ntshangase acknowledged that turning the ailing municipality around will be a big challenge, he said he was passionate about “service delivery and unity”, and asked Msunduzi residents to give the new leadership a chance.

“Msunduzi is facing a challenge of service delivery and unity. We need to forge unity among councillors to drive service delivery needs. If we are not united, we can’t deliver quality service delivery,” he said.

Speaker Eunice Majola-Zondi declined to comment, saying she was waiting for the ANC to officially inform her of the appointment.

Opposition parties give cautious welcome to City’s new leaders

Opposition parties have cautiously welcomed the appointment of Msunduzi’s new leadership and hope they are up to the task of cleaning up the mess.

DA caucus leader in Msunduzi, Sibongiseni Majola, said he could not comment too much about the new mayor, Mzi Thebolla, because he has been away from the municipal environment for a while. “He needs to understand the institutional challenges, such as discipline for instance. If he was not around, how would he catch up …

“There are many seasoned councillors who’ve been within the ANC caucus. Why did they opt to go outside and not choose one of the people inside?”

He did, however, think that the deputy mayor, Manilal Inderjit, and Speaker Eunice Majola-Zondi might make a positive contribution to the City. He considered them both to be experienced councillors.

However, he questioned what made the ANC think that Majola-Zondi would make a good council speaker when she was recently recalled as an executive member. “Unless it is a continuation of ANC in-fighting again. Unless they were trying to get rid of a particular faction in the ANC caucus,” added Majola.

The IFP’s Velenkosini Hlabisa said the party would not pass any judgments on Msunduzi’s new leadership.

“Msunduzi has deteriorated into one of the worst municipalities in KwaZulu-Natal,” said Hlabisa.

“We want to give them [the newly appointed leadership] a chance to turn things around in the City.

“The councillors chosen for the positions have experience but turning the municipality around will be a big challenge and it needs a bold approach to address corruption and give proper service delivery to the residents of Msunduzi.”

EFF: ‘Nothing will change under ANC’

EFF uMgungundlovu regional secretary David Msomi said although the party welcomed the change, it believes that “nothing will change” in the City as long “as it is still under the ANC”.

“The municipality is a mess because of the organisation. It does not matter who is put where because they won’t be able to make any changes in the City.”

ANC interim regional leader Thulani “Two Ways” Xulu said there was no doubt in their mind that the City’s new leadership was capable of dealing with the challenges facing Msunduzi.

He said they were all experienced in local government and had all served in Msunduzi as either councillors or members of the executive committee. “We believe the ANC chose leaders who are capable and we are confident that they will take Msunduzi to greater heights,” said Xulu.

Sizwe Mchunu, the former leader of the Democratic Alliance (DA) in KwaZulu-Natal, who defected to the ANC earlier this year, said he thought the ANC had applied its mind very carefully in the selection process.

He said the new mayor, deputy and speaker have served within government and ANC structures for a substantial amount of time.

“I have no doubt that Msunduzi residents would receive the deserved attention both in terms of service delivery and customer service. I really commend the ANC leadership for applying their minds in this process and for putting the interests of the people first,” he said. — Witness Reporter.

Business commits to work with new leaders

Pietermaritzburg and Midlands Chamber of Business CEO Mel Veness said they congratulated the new leaders on their appointments, and trust that they will appreciate the gravity of the responsibility they bear to turn this city around and to restore it “to the proud capital that it deserves to be”.

“As organised business, we commit to working with the new leadership in pursuit of that goal,” she said.

Minnesh Parmanand of the Msunduzi Ratepayers Forum said: “Let’s wait and see what they do. Hopefully they will do a better job than the previous people. We need to continuously check on whether they are living up to the demands of the ratepayers and residents. You must remember we were in total shambles.”

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  msunduzi municipality

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