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By Brian Sokutu

Senior Print Journalist

New Ekurhuleni mayor ‘may signal stability’ – experts

The unopposed election of Dr Nkosindiphile Xhakaza as Ekurhuleni mayor signals stable metro, ANC-DA ties amid strained relations.

The unopposed election of veteran ANC councillor Dr Nkosindiphile Xhakaza as the new Ekurhuleni mayor has signalled a move towards a more stable metro and a forging of ties between the Democratic Alliance (DA) and the governing party, political experts said yesterday.

This amid what seemed to be growing strained ANC and Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) relations, with the ANC and the DA having two weeks ago abstained from an ActionSA-sponsored vote of no confidence, which ousted former mayor Sivuyile Ngodwana from office.

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Xhakaza is expected to name his mayoral committee, with the legislature firmly in the hands of EFF council speaker Nthabiseng Tshivhenga.

Faced with a threat of Ekurhuleni being placed under administration by Gauteng cooperative governance and traditional affairs MEC Mzi Khumalo, the Xhakaza vote followed lengthy delays – allowing for last-minute consultations by party caucuses.

ANC-DA mutual support

Independent political analyst Sandile Swana said: “The signs that were visible around the voting into power of Xhakaza are that there is mutual support between the ANC and the DA.

“When the previous mayor was ejected from council, the DA and the ANC abstained, leaving the EFF being rendered unable to protect Sivuyile Ngodwana from a vote of no confidence.

“Xhakaza has been elected unopposed, allowing for a mayor to come from a bigger party – despite the fact that it does not enjoy an outright majority in council.

“The ANC and the DA seem to want to see better relations and stability restored in Ekurhuleni in the coming elections – agreeing to being flexible and combining the vote.”

Despite lack of an outright majority, Swana said a mayor should come from “the bigger party”.

“The parties should agree that a mayor voted into office should be someone best suited to deliver on the IDP [integrated development planning], the service delivery and budget implementation plan and the legislated mandate to be delivered by the executive.

“When the previous mayor was removed, we heard nothing about his achievements and failures – something which should form part of a motivation to vote a mayor out of power.

“The DA and the ANC seem to be following a particular route, with such checks and balances,” said Swana.

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Former Ekurhuleni infrastructure MMC Ndzipo Khalipa lauded Xhakaza for showing “a courageous outlook – and acknowledging the role of his predecessor”.

“Xhakaza has embraced with confidence the coalition partners and showed willingness to collectively govern the council,” said Khalipa.

“Given his experience as councillor, he is quite aware of waste removal failures, it’s environmental problems and service delivery challenges. He has cut his political activism in the Tembisa Youth Congress – rising within ANC Ekurhuleni ranks as formidable leader, who served three terms as an MMC.

“Having served as finance MMC, he is aware of council liquidity challenges, which happened during his tenure. Xhakaza is aware of financial management ramifications and challenges.”

Khalipa urged Ekurhuleni residents to “give him support and benefit of doubt”.

“I want to believe he is fit and proper to do the job. We expect him to appoint a fit and proper mayoral committee.

“He should do so without considering political choices – putting into office ethical leaders to uphold a professional high moral authority. Critical service delivery issues, infrastructure and waste removal should be on top of his agenda.

“There should be a consultative approach on policy and financial stability.” Jongizizwe Dlabathi will continue as chief whip of council.