POWER PLAY: Zuma’s rural home of Nkandla has fallen to the IFP following a municipal by-election yesterday, ending a coalition between the ANC and NFP. Picture: Gallo Images
A new anti-ANC leadership has taken the reigns in President Jacob Zuma’s very own backyard when IFP councilor Thamsanqa Ntuli was elected mayor of the Nkandla municipality yesterday.
Ntuli’s elevation put an end to the coalition government of the ANC and the National Freedom Party in the municipality. This arrangement, forged after the 2011 local government elections by the national leadership of the ANC and the NFP to co-govern 19 hung municipalities in the province, had been repeatedly tested, especially in rural municipalities like Nkandla.
At least twice this year, NFP councilors in Nkandla municipality had defied their national leaders and voted along with their IFP counterpart to register a vote of no confidence in former ANC mayor Zandile Mcadi-Mpanza.
At one stage KZN MEC for cooperative governance obtained a Pietermaritzburg High Court order to reinstate Mcadi-Mpanza. In October this year the two parties again colluded to oust her, with NFP councillors risking expulsion from their party for defying their national leadership.
The death of ANC councillor Bongumenzi Mninimuzi Ngcobo, who died of natural causes a few months ago, necessitated fresh by-elections for the vacant seat. This opened up an opportunity for the leadership of the municipality to be settled finally.
The IFP councillor, Thembinkosi Nxumalo, won almost 55% of the votes. Previously, the ANC had won the municipality seat by just under 50%.
Before last Wednesday’s by elections the ANC/NFP coalition had ruled Nkandla by a small margin of 14 seats to the IFP’s 13. The win by the IFP tilted the balance in its favour.
By yesterday the Nkandla municipality council meeting was still under way, but later it emerged the NFP’s Thokozani Ndlela was elected as the new deputy mayor while Nonhlanhla Nzuza of the IFP was appointed speaker.
The other executive committee (exco) members are Sibusiso Sibiya (IFP) and Bahle Sibiya (ANC). The ANC is still to fill another exco position.
The Nkandla area had come under the spotlight lately when the issue of extensions to President Zuma’s home and the proposed town was splashed across the newspapers headlines.
Les Govender, an IFP deployment committee member, told The New Age yesterday that his party would ring in immediate changes in the Nkandla municipality. “It is clear that the previous leadership in the municipality was not delivering services to the people of Nkandla.
“That is why the people have opted to return the IFP to power. Our main duty is to ensure that we deliver quality services to all the people of Nkandla without favouring one section,” he said.