Seasoned Durban politician Thabani Mthethwa has been elected as the new DA caucus leader in eThekwini.
The elections for the caucus leader were held at Durban’s Inkosi Albert Luthuli International Convention Centre yesterday, where 59 members of the DA’s eThekwini caucus voted in a secret ballot.
Mthethwa, who was the favourite to win coming into the race, was up against former deputy caucus leader Billy Mzamo, as well as ward councillors Shontel de Boer and Sakhile Mngadi.
The DA did not release election data, but insiders say that Mthethwa won by a landlside.
Mthethwa will be replacing Nicole Graham, who resigned from the position last month to pursue an MBA degree in Australia.
Speaking after his win, Mthethwa said he was very happy to have been elected by his peers to lead them.
This is a very strong team of diverse democrats ready to serve the people of eThekwini. It is a responsibility that we do not take lightly, knowing the challenges that the people of eThekwini face on a regular basis. We are ready to be of service to the people of eThekwini and make sure they get the services they pay for and deserve.
Unlike Graham, Mthethwa’s political career did not start with the DA.
He was born into an IFP-supporting family and also grew up supporting the IFP. He later became a member of the party. In 2011 he was a founding member of the breakaway National Freedom Party and in the same year he became an eThekwini councillor.
“Eventually I realised that the DA was the only party that was right for me and aligned with my values,” he told The Witness.
Since 2016, Mthethwa has been seen as the right-hand man to Graham as they occupied two of the three DA seats on the eThekwini executive committee.
I am absolutely delighted, Thabani has been my most trusted adviser and close friend during my entire term of leadership.
She said Mthethwa’s experience both within and outside of the DA would be vital as he assumes his role as the leader of the opposition in the metro.
“We deal with a complex opposition party environment in council,” she said. “… He is mature, experienced, calm and a true liberal who understands the values of the DA, which is something you cannot put a price on.”
Mthethwa said his goal as leader would be to unite the small and big opposition parties in council and use that leverage against the ANC.
Mduduzi Nkosi, IFP eThekwini caucus leader, said Mthethwa had the capabilities of uniting a strong opposition caucus in council.
In a political ally, we are looking for someone that will respect other people and not see themselves as bigger even if a party has one seat. He must be able to work with all political parties because that is important and I think he will be able to do that.
The next task for Mthethwa will be to pick a DA councillor to fill the party’s vacant exco seat in eThekwini.