Unity bears first fruit in KZN

New KZN premier Thami Ntuli, the IFP’s provincial chairperson. Picture: Doctor Ngcobo/ Independent Newspapers

New KZN premier Thami Ntuli, the IFP’s provincial chairperson. Picture: Doctor Ngcobo/ Independent Newspapers

Published Jun 16, 2024


Durban — The agreement of the formation of the government of national unity (GNU) bore its first fruit on Friday when the ANC, DA, IFP and NFP in KwaZulu-Natal united in opposition to the EFF and MKP in electing IFP provincial chairperson Thami Ntuli as the new premier.

The four parties produced 41 votes for Ntuli against MKP/EFF’s 38 votes for MKP’s Phathisizwe Chiliza.

“I am humbled to be afforded the opportunity to serve the people of KwaZulu-Natal,” said Ntuli soon after the announcement was made just before 7pm.

“I am also humbled by the way the sitting conducted itself today (Friday).

“It is an important journey we start today (Friday), joining the queue from those who have gone before us, to try and make the life of KZN people better.

“I will serve the people with integrity and we will hit the road running from today (Friday).”

The voting for each of the key provincial parliament positions proceeded at a snail’s pace with about a 30-minute break before each session.

The IFP and NFP accepted the ANC-proposed GNU earlier this week, while the DA signed on Friday a few minutes before the first sitting of the national and provincial assemblies.

The MKP and EFF rejected the deal and MKP also decided not to send its 58 MPs to be sworn in at the National Assembly and participate in electing the national speaker, deputy speaker and president.

The ANC scored the first victory at the provincial legislature in Pietermaritzburg when the GNU partners voted for MPL Nontembeko Boyce to retain her position as the speaker, winning 41 votes and beating MKP’s Mervyn Dirks by two votes. The DA’s Mmabatho Tembe was elected deputy speaker with 40 votes, defeating MKP’s Ishan Barciela by one vote.

Boyce, who has been speaker since 2019, said her fellow MPLs should set aside their differences for the interests of the people of the province.

“People are hungry for jobs, houses, for services. This house does not deliver services but we have to ensure they (services) are delivered,” she said.

She said they should not leave people out in deciding policies.

“Allow people to have a say. I am inviting all of you as a team, all 80 of us, to work with each other. It is not important that we like each other but we have to work together,” she said.

Outside, disgruntled MKP members, including former KwaZulu-Natal director-general Nhlanhla Ngidi, protested against not being allowed to be sworn in as MPLs. Instead, 37 other MKP members were sworn in among the 80 representatives of six parties.

The first session, presided over by KwaZulu-Natal Judge President Thoba Portia Poyo-Dlwati, also saw the premier, speaker, and deputy speaker being elected through secret ballots before being sworn in.

Friday’s sitting saw Langalibalele Street in front of the provincial legislature building being brought to a standstill as IFP supporters gathered, singing and dancing.

Speaking on behalf of the disgruntled MK members, Nhlanhla Shange said the provincial MPL list, which was gazetted and listed Ngidi as number one and in position to be the party’s premier candidate, was changed without consultation.

He blamed the IEC, saying: “We are hoping that the leadership would follow up with the IEC on how the list was amended as we know that the IEC policy simply says the list can only be amended after 12 months or when there is a member who is deceased, expelled or voluntarily withdraws.”

DA leader Francois Rodgers said the party would assume a constructive role to help the GNU turn around all the municipalities currently struggling with service delivery.

“The DA has a history of turning municipalities around as we have done in Umngeni Municipality.

“It is something we will bring to the discussion with the IFP and ANC because when we have struggling municipalities, we need to work together. We are prepared to assist with governance issues and turn these municipalities around,” he said.

Rodgers was reacting to the redeployment of former eThekwini mayor Mxolisi Kaunda from the city to the national parliament to be sworn in as a member of the National Council of Provinces (NCOP).

Rodgers said the removal of Kaunda from the mayoral position was “long overdue”.

“eThekwini is a mess. It is time that we get the city functioning properly because truly the mayor has failed.

“If there is no water running in certain communities, if infrastructure is not being maintained, if the sewage is running into the ocean and the beaches have to be closed, I don’t know what gives him the right to claim victory.

“Those are the bread-and-butter issues that people have to deal with every day,” said Rodgers.

As a sign of conciliation between the parties who signed the GNU pact, Rodgers refused to blame the ANC for the mess in eThekwini.

When asked if the ANC should not be blamed, he said: “No, they appointed the mayor and he failed in his responsibilities. We are talking about Mxolisi Kaunda and not about the ANC.

“Ultimately the mayor has to take responsibility if the city spends 8% of its total budget on maintaining infrastructure.

“He has to take the blame, as the buck stops with the mayor.”

ANC KwaZulu-Natal secretary Bheki Mtolo said the new mayor would be appointed in two weeks.

Independent on Saturday