City officials fear purge after Kaunda’s sacking

Kaunda was redeployed to the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) by the ANC. Picture: Khaya Ngwenya/ Independent Newspapers

Kaunda was redeployed to the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) by the ANC. Picture: Khaya Ngwenya/ Independent Newspapers

Published Jun 14, 2024


Senior officials in the eThekwini Municipality could be next to go following then sacking of mayor Mxolisi Kaunda.

Kaunda was redeployed to the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) by the ANC this week. He bade farewell to the City on Thursday, saying it had faced many challenges during his tenure, including natural disasters and the Covid-19 outbreak.

Sources in the municipality who spoke to “The Mercury” on Thursday said many changes are likely to be implemented.

“There is a lot of anxiety, I don’t want to lie. There are many changes happening at once,” said a City official.

Asked what other changes could be in the pipeline, the official said: “It could be in the administration. The way things are at the moment, this could go anywhere.

“There are these coalition talks happening. While they made the national and provincial, eThekwini could also be used as a bargaining tool, to say give us the mayor in eThekwini and we will give you this.”

The official said on the political front, speculation was that former premier Nomusa Dube-Ncube, former ANC MP Cyril Xaba or outgoing police minister Bheki Cele could be brought in as mayor.

Another source in the municipality said the provincial executive committee was not happy with the state of the municipality and had been calling for changes for some time.

“The municipality has not been performing. The contractors are not being appointed in a timely manner and projects are not being completed. The bulk of the city’s residents are not getting water from the tap. For some time the province has wanted Section 154 to be implemented, but that didn’t happen.”

The source said the administration could be targeted next. “Kaunda was easy to remove because the municipality was not performing, but he was not an executive mayor. There is an administration in place and that administration is next in the firing line.”

Another source said that “with the new mayor coming in, the organisation has to look at where the pitfalls are and where the problems are”.

“The outgoing mayor had serious problems with officials not listening to him. You can see that from what the city is like,” said the source, who has knowledge of the ANC.

Speaking at the media briefing on Thursday, Kaunda said he was leaving a great legacy, having provided service delivery to eThekwini’s citizens.

He said he was called by ANC secretary-general Fikile Mbalula who had informed him that he was being deployed. Kaunda said he did not question his deployment because he believed the ANC was preparing him for another great opportunity.

“I take this with warm hands. Just like I took MEC for transport deployment; the NCOP deployment, I take it with warm hands. I will not question the decision. I wish to thank the ANC. Not everyone in the ANC is being deployed, this means I am lucky. I will be making another good impact as I have made in eThekwini,” he said.

But the DA’s caucus leader in eThekwini, Thabani Mthethwa, said the party had always wanted to remove Kaunda.

“The removal of Kaunda is good for the people of eThekwini. We have always wanted the man gone, he has managed this city terribly,” he said.

IFP spokesperson in eThekwini, MduNkosi, said Kaunda’s removal was long overdue. “We have always complained about the lack of service delivery under his leadership. Since he took office in 2019, all departments have been in shambles, from water and electricity (to) infrastructure. He was not the right man for the job, he needed to be gone.

Even ratepayers associations were always complaining about him,” Nkosi said.

The Mercury