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The appointment of Mxolisi Kaunda as the mayor of eThekwini Metro is just the first step towards reversing the rot that has set in at the city council.
“For too long the city has operated without any clear direction or firm leadership. Under former mayor Zandile Gumede’s watch, responsible financial discipline disintegrated. This has not only been evident in the city’s own internal reports but it was clearly stated in the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs’ assessment of the city completed in June,” says Tim Tyrrell, OUTA’s KZN Provincial Manager.
He said it was of “great concern” that there are reportedly another 62 councillors fingered in various forms of corruption linked to the same criminal matter implicating Gumede and her co-accused, former executive councillor Mondli Mthembu. Gumede and Mthembu have been charged in connection with an alleged R208 million tender scandal.
From the time Gumede was arrested and charged on 14 May 2019, OUTA has consistently and repeatedly called for her resignation, says Tyrrell.
“Besides the moral imperative, her bail conditions were simply too restrictive for her to undertake her duties. The fact that the ANC felt it did not even need to rely on the criminal matter to oust her but rather Gumede’s poor track record as the leader of a city with a budget in excess of R50 billion, speaks volumes of Gumede’s lack of ability to run a sophisticated and hugely complex metropolis,” says Tyrrell.
He says political parties should vote for leaders with the requisite skills to lead and grow local economies.
“Future mayors need to have proven track records and understand that they serve all sectors of society. We welcome the arrival of Mayor Kaunda, Deputy Mayor Belinda Scott and Weziwe Thusi as Speaker and we look forward to engaging with them. However, OUTA will continue to be a watchdog for civil society and hold city executives and officials to account where they fall short in fulfilling their duties,” says Tyrrell.