Durban – The troubled Pongola municipality, nestled along the South Africa-eSwatini border in northern KZN, has a new mayor after months of political and administrative turbulence.
S’bu Mhlongo is a powerful figure in the ANC Mzala Nxumalo region (Zululand district). He will assume his new role on Wednesday.
Mhlongo who is the ANC’s regional chairperson, was a prominent backer of President Cyril Ramaphosa in the run-up to the ANC 2017 elective conference in Nasrec.
He will be replacing Bawinile Nhlabathi, now an ordinary councillor, who was recalled after she was arrested for assaulting a trespasser in her home.
She had allegedly assaulted the trespasser with the help of her municipality-funded bodyguards.
While Mhlongo was not immediately available to comment on Monday, regional ANC secretary Zakhele Buthelezi said Mhlongo had been given three urgent tasks.
He stressed that he had to fulfil these tasks in the remaining few months of the current term of office before local government elections next year.
Buthelezi said since Pongola was one of the economic hubs of the Zululand region and, to a lesser extent, served as a food source for southern eSwatini and parts of southern Mozambique, Mhlongo had to ensure the political and economic stability of the municipality.
“His mandate as he takes over the reins is to stabilise the municipality politically and economically. As I have said, Pongola is one of the economic hubs of the region.
“He has also has to work hard to ensure that the ANC retains the municipality after next year’s local government elections and it also improves from the previous results,” Buthelezi told Independent Media on Monday.
Buthelezi said Mhlongo must ensure that the municipality’s residents get the services that are due to them.
“He has also been tasked with ensuring that service delivery is undertaken accordingly for our people,” he added.
Before joining active politics, Mhlongo was a general manager at Itshelejuba Hospital, a district hospital servicing patients from as far as Mpumalanga, Swaziland and Mozambique.
Commenting on Mhlongo’s appointment, the South African National Civic Organisation (Sanco) in Zululand said it was hopeful Mhlongo would work hard to ensure the municipality got back to basics and that he would work together with the collective to deliver services to the people of Pongola.