ANC surrenders meekly as IFP elects its man as Nquthu mayor

06 June 2017 - 15:26 By Nathi Olifant
Newly elected Nquthu Municipality Mayor Siyabonga Mabilabila Kunene.
Newly elected Nquthu Municipality Mayor Siyabonga Mabilabila Kunene.

Just a fortnight ago - and again on Monday - the ANC promised to give the IFP hell from the opposition benches in Nquthu. But on Tuesday they surrendered meekly as their rival's candidates were elected unopposed as mayor‚ deputy mayor and speaker.

With barely a peep from the ANC‚ Siyabonga Mabilabila Kunene was named as mayor of the embattled northern KwaZulu-Natal municipality‚ with Nothing Maria Zungu named as his deputy and Mbongeni Mnguni as speaker. This follows a dire 10-month leadership vacuum‚ where the council could not elect office bearers due to a stalemate between coalitions led by the IFP and by the ANC.

Beaming from ear to ear‚ Kunene clenched his fist as KZN MEC for agriculture and rural development‚ Themba Mthembu‚ and municipal manager Bongi Gumbi strutted forward to put the glittering mayoral chain around his neck. This was after IFP councillors and supporters from the gallery had demanded that he be chained immediately.

Ironically‚ Kunene and Zungu swopped roles - as the former had been a deputy mayor while the latter was the mayor before the IFP lost the council to an ANC-NFP coalition in May 2011.

But their election is not without controversy; the pair is among six people currently facing charges of conspiracy to commit murder following their arrest by the Hawks in late April. They are out on R7‚000 bail‚ with the police saying they had a strong case and refusing to drop charges.

On Wednesday‚ inside the Nquthu council chambers‚ the IFP burst into song as their councillors were elected - including the chant "wathinta uShenge udakwe yini" (which translates to "you touch Shenge‚ what are you drunk on?"). When Zungu was elected‚ the IFP also unleashed with "aya lena nalena ayadidizela ayesaba amagwala" ("they are frantic‚ panicking and cowering away. The cowards are afraid").

Kunene thanked his party after his election as first citizen.

"As elected officials we are not bosses‚ but your servants and servants of the people‚" he said.

Mnguni also pledged to work with all councillors.

"I'm no speaker for a particular party‚ but for all of you‚" he said.

- TMG Digital/TimesLIVE