FORMER Chris Hani District Municipality chief whip Lindiwe Gunuza Nkwentsha successfully fended off a challenge by opposition party, the DA, in becoming the executive mayor of the newly-merged Enoch Mgijima Municipality at the inaugural meeting of the new council at the Mzi Skweyiya Hall on Friday.
The DA’s Chris de Wet was fielded as the mayoral candidate against Gunuza Nkwentsha, who is also the ANC regional treasurer in the Chris Hani district. De Wet received 11 votes against Gunuza Nkwentsha’s 49.
There was one spoilt ballot paper and the EFF abstained from voting for both the mayor and the speaker. Former Lukhanji finance portfolio head Mzoxolo Peter was elected as speaker, managing to garner 49 votes out of a potential 68 with DA candidate Zuko Mandile securing 12.
Former Lukhanji municipal manager (MM) Nolwandle Gqiba chaired the meeting until the IEC took over for the secret ballot for the position of speaker. Gqiba has been appointed as interim MM of Enoch Mgijima for six months.
Taking over the officiating of the meeting, Peter said he appreciated the opportunity given to him by the ANC. He thanked the Mgijima family for giving the local authority – a merger of Lukhanji, Tsolwana and Inkwanca – permission to use the “name of their son”.
“We thank the people who voted during the elections and all the political parties that contributed to making sure democracy is realised. Special appreciation [goes] to the ANC for giving us this opportunity. If it were not for the ANC, we would not be here today,” Peter said.
Gunuza Nkwentsha requested a moment of silence be observed for the late former premier and cabinet minister Makhenkesi Stofile, who died last week. She then thanked the Mgijima family for being part of the historic moment.
“I am deeply humbled by the hope and trust you have placed in me today and I thank every person who came out to vote on August 3 to renew their trust in the ANC to continue leading this great area.”
The current form of governance was built on pledges, trust and knowledge that the power of government was given to it by the people. She said the community could be assured that the council would interact with it consistently.
“I have a burning ambition for Enoch Mgijima Municipality – an ambition that will guide me every day as mayor of this newly-established entity. I want every person residing in the boundaries of this municipality to get the opportunities that it provided to people like me and newly-elected councillors assembled here.”
Her term of office would be dedicated to ensuring that locals and their families lived a better life and had an opportunity not to just survive, but thrive.
“We face real challenges in the next 10 years of this new baby called Enoch Mgijima Local Municipality, but we can rely and draw upon unequaled greatness to address them.”
Gunuza Nkwentsha thanked the previous mayors in the former local municipalities for their contributions.
“For the past years you steered these municipalities in the right direction. You provided quality leadership that brought stability and prosperity.”
Former ward councillor Funeka Sopapazi was elected as the chief whip during a special meeting in the council chambers on Wednesday.