ANC politics is collapsing municipalities

Zandile Gumede was sacked, along with her mayoral executive committee.
Zandile Gumede was sacked, along with her mayoral executive committee.
Image: Thuli Dlamini

After much speculation, the ANC in KZN finally axed Zandile Gumede as mayor of eThekwini, the country's third-biggest metro.

Gumede was sacked along with her mayoral executive committee.

Also to suffer the same fate were Msunduzi municipality mayor Themba Njilo and members of his executive council.

Msunduzi, which includes the provincial capital Pietermaritzburg, has been dysfunctional for a while - with residents often complaining about the council's inability to deliver services they have paid for through rates and other taxes.

The provincial government was even forced to put the municipality under administration.

But it is eThekwini which has hogged the headlines for all the wrong reasons in recent months.

Workers in the city shut down the Durban CBD about two months ago in protest against an unjust decision to increase the salaries of a group of ANC-aligned employees while ignoring the rest of the staff.

As if that was not enough, the mayor and a number of her colleagues were arrested on corruption-related charges.

However, judging by what the ANC announced yesterday, it is the incompetence of those who were running the city which finally forced the ANC's hand.

The billing system of a city that used to pride itself in administrative efficiency is a mess. Water supply to some of the townships is inconsistent while refuse removal in areas such as Umlazi is sporadic.

While we commend the ANC for finally wielding the axe, we must point out that these problems were self-inflicted.

The party should share the blame. Due to internal factional politics, the ANC made Gumede mayor even when it was clear that she was not suitable for the job of running a city as complex as eThekwini.

The party allowed her to purge capable administrators who had, over the years, ensured that the city was in a good state of health while it delivered services to residents.

This problem is not limited to eThekwini and Msunduzi, throughout SA viable municipalities are being destroyed as a result of bad leadership choices made by the ruling party in order to appease powerful factions within its ranks.

If it continues on this path, it is a matter of time before the entire system of local government collapses.

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