Experts say new eThekwini mayor must work hard to restore ratepayers' confidence

political experts say the new mayor will have to work hard to restore the City’s image. File picture: Supplied.

political experts say the new mayor will have to work hard to restore the City’s image. File picture: Supplied.

Published Jun 22, 2024


The African National Congress (ANC) says it will announce the new eThekwini Municipality mayor once all internal processes are completed. This comes despite media reports suggesting that ANC Member of Parliament, Cyril Xaba, could be the man for the job.

However, speaking to IOL, political experts believe the new mayor will have to work hard to restore the City’s image and regain ratepayers’ confidence.

ANC provincial spokesperson, Mafika Mndebele, told IOL that the party hopes to have wrapped up the process before the City's full council meeting, set to take place at the Durban International Convention Centre on Tuesday.

Media reports suggest ANC Member of Parliament, Cyril Xaba, could be the man for the job.

"The ANC will announce once internal processes are done. The ANC will submit three names. We only share one name once the process is finalised," he said.

Mndebele declined to comment on whether previous City leadership names would top their list.

The mayor’s seat emptied following the ANC’s deployment of Mxolisi Kaunda to the National Council of Provinces (NCOP).

Former eThekwini Municipality mayor, Mxolisi Kaunda. Picture: Se-Anne Rall/IOL

IOL understands that previous deputy mayor, Fawzia Peer, and former City manager, Dr Michael Sutcliffe's names have been thrown into the ring to assist with governance in the City.

Speaking to IOL, Peer said deployment, to any sphere, remains the prerogative of the party.

"It's left the party, we don't decide.

"If it is a call, it is a call that has to be appreciated. We solely depend on our leadership.

"I won't say no to it but my main thing is that it's left to leadership," Peer said.

“I don’t generally comment on things like that,” added Sutcliffe.

“...until something happens, it happens,” he said.

Tough road ahead for new mayor?

Political analyst and political science lecturer at the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) Zakhele Ndlovu, said even though political parties have entered into a Government of National Unity in KZN, the mayoral candidate will most likely come from the ANC, however there could be a consultation process with coalition partners.

He said the incumbent mayor will have to prioritise cleaning Durban.

“You hold your nose when you walk around the city centre. Work will have to be done to revitalise the city. Businesses have left the city and it’s not longer an attractive place because of the crime.

“The main priority is to deal with crime, clean the city, enforce by-laws, and tackle the issue of illegal electrical connections,” he said.

UKZN senior professor and governance specialist, Professor PS Reddy, said he believed Xaba is an attorney by profession and has quite a bit of political experience.

“I believe he’s basically a likeable person and has experience but moving into the Durban situation, he has to be very strong politically, firm and decisive.

“If you look at municipal governance over the last five years, I think you’ll see it has deteriorated. We need some strong discipline to get the City up and running again in terms of service delivery and the other challenges facing the municipality,” Reddy said.

He said the first thing the new mayor needs to do is build trust between the council, residents and ratepayers.

“There’s been a serious breakdown in trust if you look at the deterioration in service delivery, especially basic services like water, electricity and roads,” Reddy added.

He said at one stage, eThekwini was one of the top performing municipalities, able to hold its own against some of the top cities in the world, however there has been a general decline in government and service delivery.

“There is serious work that has to be done in that regard in order to gain the confidence of residents and ratepayers,” he said.

Democratic Alliance (DA) caucus leader in eThekwini, Thabani Mthethwa, said whoever is elected to replace Kaunda must be a people centred person not just a person obsessed with putting the interest of their political party first.

“The collapse in eThekwini is such that we need wholesale changes both politically and administratively,” he said.

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