New mayor sweeps clean
THE embattled Msunduzi municipality’s newly elected mayor, Chris Ndlela, wasted no time yesterday in declaring war on fraud and corruption, which had almost ripped the KwaZulu-Natal capital city apart.
While his election is seen as a breath of fresh air, teaming him up with Alpha Shelembe, who was elected deputy mayor, was rejected by some ANC activists.
Shelembe was the former Speaker in the previous Msunduzi administration. He had been forced to step down last year in a shake-up after Msunduzi was taken over by an administrator.
This was after administrative and financial mismanagement had almost crippled the entity.
Shelembe, however, remained an ordinary councillor until the May 18 elections.
Other office-bearers elected yesterday were Zonke Mbatha as Speaker and Thobani Zuma as chief whip.
While the inauguration ceremony was under way, a group of ANC activists demonstrated outside the city hall against Shelembe’s election as deputy mayor while he was facing allegations of corruption and fraud.
However, he has denied the allegations.
Another group wanted him to be the new mayor.
Protesters outside scattered in all directions when the police fired the grenades.
Apparently the angry people had thrown stones, rubbish and tomatoes at police, who were preventing them from approaching the hall. The crowd had been told to demonstrate on grounds across the road from the hall.
In his acceptance speech, Ndlela, a former teacher turned trade unionist, spoke of the need to inculcate a culture of work ethics in the municipality’s staff and among the councillors.
“The lives of our people should get first priority. There are too many challenges – the city is dirty and faces constant electricity blackouts. We also have to work very hard to inculcate the culture of paying for services and stop stealing electricity,” he said, emphasising the need to keep Msunduzi competitive.
Ndlela said there was a need to create an environment conducive for business to invest in the city, saying the municipality could only work with the support of the business community.
“The period of honeymoon is over. I want to ensure that this city will not be the same again. Let us work together to build better communities,” he said.
Ndlela was forthright about the need to declare war against crime, corruption and fraud in the city.
He warned that it would no longer be business as usual for Msunduzi, saying that the challenges to be faced were plain to be seen.
“We have to fight viciously against crime, fraud and corruption. We will leave no stone unturned to ensure that our city is rid of crime and corruption,” he said amid ululation from the public gallery.
Ndlela also warned the new council of the need to take “very tough and unpopular decisions” to go forward.
“I hope we have the guts to take the city forward. There are really going to be serious decisions to take on behalf of our city and I am going to be at the forefront of this process,” he said, telling councillors that they all had a responsibility to build the city.
Shelembe said he was “humbled, honoured and highly privileged” that the ANC still had faith in him “despite having suffered so much humiliation from the media”.