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Durban – After last-minute negotiations with smaller parties in the eThekwini municipality, the ANC was able to hold on to eThekwini when Mxolisi Kaunda won the tight mayoral race.

Kaunda beat the DA’s Nicole Graham, setting a scene of ANC jubilation inside the Durban ICC where the council to elect the new mayor, his deputy and the chief whip was conducted.

Smiling sheepishly while trying to contain his joy at being re-elected to the prestigious municipal position, Kaunda was carried to the stage by jubilant ANC councillors but he did not deliver a speech.

Later, when asked by the media how he was feeling after winning the tightly-contested race, Kaunda tried to murmur something but was drowned out by the ANC councillors who were still celebrating, singing: “Sasishilo ukuthi iyodibana – we told you so”.

Among those who were in attendance to witness the voting process was Mdumiseni Ntuli, the provincial secretary of the ANC in KwaZulu-Natal, along with Education MEC Kwazi Mshengu and KwaZulu-Natal Premier Sihle Zikalala, who are both ANC deployees in the provincial government.

It was a close race as Kaunda won 113 votes while Graham, helped by the IFP, EFF and other smaller parties, received 104 votes. Two votes were spoilt and one of those was the subject of a fierce argument that pitted party agents against each other when the ANC claimed it was cast on its behalf.

Kaunda’s victory was boosted when the ANC was able to persuade its former mayor in Greytown, Philani Mavundla, who is now the president of the ABC, to join it in the fight in exchange for him being the deputy mayor.

As opposition parties in the council are still determined to upset the apple cart of the ANC and the ABC, they have since fielded the IFP’s Mdu Nkosi to take on Mavundla for the deputy mayor’s position.