Port Elizabeth – There is a strong possibility that the ANC will be announcing a new mayor for the Nelson Mandela Bay municipality on Monday.
Two weeks ago a high level ANC delegation, led by President Jacob Zuma, visited the city amid speculation that the president was in town to axe the current mayor, 83-year-old Benson Fihla.
However, the two-day meeting concluded with the ANC announcing that they would not be reshuffling any Nelson Mandela Bay political deployments at the time.
ANC national spokesperson Zizi Kodwa said at the time the delegation had come to the city to engage with, and evaluate the work done by, a 31-person task team that had been established to rebuild the ANC structures following the disbanding of the Regional Executive Committee in December last year.
Kodwa said the delegates had also held numerous meetings in relation to a much anticipated report on the state of the municipality from Cooperative Governance Minister, Pravin Gordhan, following months of investigations by national government.
The report’s findings, as well as details of the two-day visit, were reported back to the ANC’s National Executive Committee (NEC), as only the NEC had the authority to make changes relating to political deployments.
An NEC meeting was held in Pretoria at the weekend. At a press conference afterwards, ANC Secretary-General Gwede Mantashe confirmed that an ANC delegation would be returning to Nelson Mandela Bay.
Mantashe arrived on Monday morning and is currently engaging with the various local ANC structures. A press conference is scheduled for 15:00 on Monday.
The ANC-led municipality has battled with political instability and factional in-fighting, and, should Fihla be axed, this would see Nelson Mandela Bay get its fourth mayor in six years.
In 2009, Nondumiso Maphazi was fired a mayor and replaced by Zanoxolo Wayile, who in turn was fired in 2013 and replaced by Fihla.
The possible reshuffle comes at a critical time for the ANC, with the party being fully aware of the challenges that lie ahead in the run-up to next year’s general elections.
Over the past two weeks, three candidates have emerged as potential replacements for Fihla. These are the current President of the South African Football Association and PE-born Danny Jordaan, Nelson Mandela Bay Chamber of Business president and businessman, Mandla Madwara, and former deputy mayor Bicks Ndoni.
Of the three, Madwara has been the most outspoken. He confirmed that he had been approached by the ANC regional task team to consider the position. Senior ANC officials have also confirmed that Jordaan was approached, while Ndoni has long been a favourite among local structures as a possible replacement for Fihla.
Madwara informed the NMB Business Chamber at its AGM last week Wednesday that he was seriously considering the offer. He made it clear that should he be appointed mayor, he would have to resign from the chamber and would also have to give up some of his business interests.