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More than two years after the local government election and formation of councils, most of the metros remained unstable and dysfunctional.  The ANC and EFF escalated their arguments with each other in Ekurhuleni and Ethekwini while the city managers in Johannesburg and Nelson Mandela Bay struggled with their legitimacy.

Service delivery and financial health continued their decline. Municipal workers in Tshwane ended their three-month long strike that had left the metro with large backlogs in refuse removal. Problems at Transnet led to delays and congestion at Cape Town and Durban ports, while poor financial management in Nelson Mandela Bay and Buffalo City resulted in irregular expenditure of almost R100-million in each Eastern Cape metro.

Mayors and city managers on shaky ground

Top officials in Johannesburg, eThekwini and Nelson Mandela Bay came under attack by opposition parties and their own coalition partners alike. All three mayors in the ANC-led coalitions faced challenges in council.

In Johannesburg, a motion of no confidence was withdrawn against mayor Kabelo Gwamanda while the embattered city manager Floyd Brink had his appointment declared unlawful. The metro challenged the decision but it was upheld by the Gauteng High Court. Brink is a controversial figure and the DA-led Multiparty Coalition has opposed his appointment.

In eThekwini, the EFF asked city manager Musa Mbhele to resign during a chaotic council meeting. The DA echoed the call and asked mayor Mxolisi Kaunda to resign too. The IFP echoed the DA’s request for Kaunda to resign and threatened him with a vote of no confidence. Fractures in the ANC-EFF relationship were evident as the two parties met to resolve their issues.

The embattled mayor of Nelson Mandela Bay, Gary van Niekerk, was accused by a second law firm of not paying their bills. He faced a multi-party investigation for fraud connected to the non-payment of another law firm. The investigative committee was hampered by the absence of ANC and EFF councillors – an absence labelled a delaying tactic by opposition parties. 

Financial health takes a turn for the worse

The Ekurhuleni ANC caucus expressed concerns about the metro’s financial sustainability, with operational revenue below targets. eThekwini’s inability to spend two thirds of a grant from Treasury led to calls for the city manager and mayor to resign.

A preliminary report from the Auditor-General’s office revealed that both Nelson Mandela Bay and Buffalo city had incurred irregular expenditure of close to R100-million for the 2022/23 financial year. 


Written by Research Team

December 12, 2023

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