New Mayor Councillor James Nxumalo has overcome numerous obstacles to be where he is today. Born on a farm in New Hanover where both his parents worked as farm labourers, his passion for politics was shaped at a young age. His broad smile, charisma and personality have made him popular and won him friends and admirers in opposition parties. As provincial chairman of the South African Communist Party (SACP), he is cultured in championing the rights of the working class. Due to only his mother working, the family took a tough decision that all the children except for the last two were to leave school and work on the farm to augment family income. As one of the two youngest, Nxumalo was allowed to continue his education. He started his education at Ingqaza Lower Primary School, walking some 10kms to get to school each day.
He also attended Bhekamatshe Community Primary School, Imbaliyezwe Lower Primary School, then moved to Fredville Higher Primary School and finally completed his matric at Siphesihle High School at Intshanga. It was during these daily walks to school when he was enlightened about the conditions under which they were forced to live on the farm. After that he realised that their lives were shaped by apartheid and its laws. During this time whilst at high school he got involved in politics and worked in the structures of the United Democratic Front (UDF) in the 1980’s. In 1990, he joined the ANC Youth League, the ANC and the South African Communist Party. During that year he was employed as a labourer at a chicken factory and because the working conditions were deplorable, he organised workers to join trade unions as well as the ANC and SACP. The 45 year old, has been described by many as the perfect man for the job with his experience in local government. He will head the KwaZulu-Natal’s biggest Municipality with a budget of R28.6 billion. “We have done a lot as a Municipality in terms of infrastructure development and we will continue where the previous Council left off.
We want to accelerate our programmes, like the provision of basic services. We all know that there is a housing backlog, there are a lot of people still living in informal settlements and many other families live in cramped, overcrowded conditions, “Nxumalo said. In light of this, he said a priority for him would be to up the pace of new houses being built each year from 16000 to 18000. Nxumalo urged councillors, ward committees and the community to work together to fast track service delivery. “Service delivery should be people driven; it should not be top down. That is why public participation will be a priority.” He said corruption, fraud and maladministration will be on top of his agenda. “We will be very strict this time. We will not allow councillors to do business with the Municipality. We also need to understand that 60% of councillors are new and we must not take that for granted.
They will be trained to understand that the law does not allow them to do business with the Council.” He said those who owned companies should resign from those companies, “as a matter of urgency and declare their business interests. This includes Municipal officials”. Councillors would be trained on the relevant acts and regulations governing the conduct of public servants. “We will also be strict on officials and departments. All Municipal Departments should adhere to the supply chain management processes and should not flout those procedures, particularly in the awarding of tenders,” Nxumalo said.
Nxumalo also paid glowing tribute to his predecessor Obed Mlaba. “For the past 15 years we have worked very well together. He has been an inspiration to us all and has laid a very solid foundation for us. “Mlaba was equally effusive about his successor. “He has conducted himself very well and with his background in politics I am confident that he will be able to carry the Municipality to even greater heights. “His appointment means that there will be continuity and he will be able to carry forward the Municipality’s long term development plans in a manner that addresses the needs of people throughout eThekwini. I congratulate him and wish him a successful tenure,” Mlaba said.