There’s high hope and expectations pinned on the newly elected eThekwini mayor Mxolisi Kaunda, following his swearing in and inaugural address at the Durban City Hall, yesterday. Kaunda promised to hit the ground running on improving service delivery and unite the people of eThekwini.
Kaunda and his deputy, former MEC for Finance, Belinda Scott, were among the four ANC councillors sworn in. The other two were Weziwe Thusi who is the former MEC for Social Development and councillor Sibongiseni Mkhize. Thusi was elected to head up the office of the Speaker while Mkhize is the new Chief Whip of the ANC. During his address, Kaunda pledged to continue to serve the people.
He said: “I am humbled by the election to office. I wish to thank the previous executive committees for their work done in the city since the formation of the eThekwini Metro in 2000. However, while great strides have been made in the city, much still needs to be done to reverse the spatial planning of apartheid which continues to haunt and divide. As we assume office, our main task is to serve the people and to ensure that we turn the city around to respond to the demands and aspirations of residents. This task requires a collective wisdom and the efforts of all of us. We need to restore the image of our city both locally and internationally to its glory days.”
The city has been plagued throughout the years with service delivery issues and its leaders dogged by allegations of corruption. This includes Kaunda’s predecessor, Zandile Gumede, who is currently out on R50 000 bail. She and eight others including city employees, councillors and prominent Durban business people, were arrested in May this year for tender fraud and corruption amounting to over R200 million.
Gumede was put on special leave in June by the ANC and in August recalled and asked to resign. She remains a PR councillor for the city of eThekwini. In relation to the controversy Kaunda said: “One of the ways to make the municipality attractive to business investment is by putting tough measures in place to deal with crime and lawlessness. Working with the police, we will identify all the crime hotspots within the municipality and develop an integrated safety plan to eradicate crime in these areas. We will also focus on high investment and drive tourism while we strive to provide a safe, reliable and affordable public transport system. We have not forgotten about radical socio-economic transformation and will continue to implement this while promoting unity and social cohesion among residents,” Kaunda said.
While Thusi echoed his sentiments in saying what an important role local government played in fast-tracking service delivery. She said: “The biggest goal we want to achieve during this term is a clean audit for the city. Thank you for entrusting me to uplift the quality of life of all eThekwini residents.”