Durban mayoral post sparks deep divisions inside the ANC

Competition for the job said to be a 3-horse race between Cyril Xaba, ex-premier Nomusa Dube-Ncube and Bheki Cele.

Competition for the job said to be a 3-horse race between Cyril Xaba, ex-premier Nomusa Dube-Ncube and Bheki Cele.

Published Jun 24, 2024


The race for the new mayor of eThekwini Municipality is heating up, with ructions within the ANC over who should lead the province’s biggest municipality.

Divisions have surfaced inside the ANC, with the province and the regional structures clashing.

And the smaller parties who have kept the ANC in power since 2021 feel they are about to be dumped by the ANC in favour of its new partners in the Government of National Unity (GNU).

Competition for the post is believed to be a three-horse race between Cyril Xaba, former police minister Bheki Cele and former premier Nomusa Dube-Ncube.

Xaba is believed to be the front runner. He has served as an ANC MPL in KwaZulu-Natal from 1994 and became the agriculture MEC in 2014.

The ANC has dismissed the possibility that a new mayor would be sworn-in at a council meeting on Tuesday as was expected. It said it was still waiting for the outcome of the interview process.

The process to chose a new mayor has raised a number of concerns in and outside the ANC. The ANC in eThekwini region said the ANC provincial leadership had not consulted it on the matter.

The region has oversight of councillors deployed to the metro.

ANC regional spokesperson Mlondi Mkhize was reported to have said that the region had not been included in the discussion. Mkhize reportedly said that if the provincial leadership wanted to restore confidence in the municipality, it should deploy former mayor James Nxumalo or Nigel Gumede.

He declined to speak to “The Mercury” on Sunday, on their preference, saying the ANC in the province was leading the process. “We (the region) have been advised to keep clear of that process.”

Another concern is the ANC’s relationship with a block of smaller parties that have been in coalition with the ANC since 2021. They said indications are that the ANC was likely to dump them in favour of the partnership with the DA and IFP. The smaller parties have 17 seats in council.

“I received a call from the ANC leaders in the eThekwini region after mayor Mxolisi Kaunda was removed, who informed me that they are being given Xaba to be the new mayor. I am now surprised to see other names that have been bandied about,” said one leader representing the smaller parties.

“Normally they (the ANC) would have engaged us as to who will be the new mayor, but nothing has been said so far, which makes it clear that they might no longer need us.

“To be honest, it would be a good thing if they continue with (GNU partners) and leave us out of the arrangement because working with them harmed us during the elections,” said the councillor.

An ANC leader, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the new mayor was unlikely to be sworn in on Tuesday.

“The new mayor has to be brought in as a councillor, elected to the executive committee, so unless they could squeeze all these processes in on Monday, I do not believe he would be elected.”

The councillors said despite the mayor being parachuted in again, they would be working with the new mayor.

“We will be working with the new mayor like we did with (former mayor) Mxolisi Kaunda. Sometimes it’s not about consultation, but it’s about the attitude of the person. I know there are talks about which candidate is being preferred. I would not want to be drawn into that,” said the councillor.

DA councillor Thabani Mthethwa said they were still waiting for guidance from the party’s national office as to what type of relationship they would have in eThekwini.

“We will be guided by what happens at the national level and then act accordingly.”

Mthethwa said they still believe that intervention in the municipality is necessary.

“The problem in the municipality cannot be resolved by the mayor alone.

There needs to be an overhaul of the administration – the political leadership should really scrutinise the performance of leadership, especially senior management,” he said.

ANC provincial spokesperson Mafika Mndebele said the new mayor would not be elected on Tuesday. “We are waiting for the interview processes to be finalised, the matter is with national leadership. If that is done on Thursday, the mayor will be elected on Thursday.”

Asked about the concerns of the ANC in the region that it had not been consulted, Mndebele said: “The ANC consulted its structure, and proposed three names that it then sent to the national office.

The ANC has its way of doing things and it won’t change now.”

The Mercury