DA 'wants to purge ANC-appointed officials'

The African National Congress has accused the Democratic Alliance of illegally trying to purge Cape Town city manager Wallace Mgoqi from his post.

“It has been clear from [mayor Helen] Zille’s media comments that she is determined to fire Dr Mgoqi by any means,” Matthew Parks, the ANC deputy secretary in the Dullah Omar region in the metro, said on Saturday.

“This is [in] line with what the DA is doing in Stellenbosch and other councils it now controls, even if it has a one-councillor majority.

“It wants to purge all senior coloured and black officials appointed by former ANC councils,” Parks said in a statement.

On Friday, the DA, which leads the Cape Town metro, asked Mgoqi not to come to work until question marks over his contract have been resolved.

The move followed legal opinion that the renewal of Mgoqi’s contract for another year on the eve of the March 1 local government elections had been irregular.

The contract was renewed by then-mayor Nomaindia Mfeketo, whose ANC lost the city to an alliance of the DA and smaller parties.

“The city has sent Dr Mgoqi a lawyer’s letter indicating that the renewal of his contract was not done in a lawful manner, and therefore that his contract is in that legal opinion null and void,” mayoral spokesperson Robert Macdonald said. “Obviously it’s up to Dr Mgoqi to decide if he wants to contest that.”

Though Zille has in the past complained that Mgoqi, supposedly a neutral official, in fact campaigned for the ANC in the polls, Macdonald said the reason the contract had been called in to question was a “strictly legal one”.

Zille was sticking by her commitment not to carry out political purges or revenge firings of staff, he said.

He said that when the mayoral committee had been in recess, as it was when Mgoqi’s contract was renewed, the mayor had delegated authority to take decisions in conjunction with the city manager on matters of emergency.

This was the authority under which Mfeketo claimed to have renewed Mgoqi’s contract for a year, just before the local government elections.

However, it had come to the attention of the new mayoral committee this week that records showed that Mfeketo and Mgoqi, using this authority, had decided to amend the delegation “on a one-off basis” to allow Mfeketo alone to reappoint Mgoqi.

This would ostensibly remove any question of a conflict of interest on Mgoqi’s part.

“That’s not legally sound: that’s the opinion that we got,” Macdonald said.
“It’s just irregular. We’ve been advised by senior counsel it won’t stand up.”

He said while there would be no objection, pending a resolution of the matter, to Mgoqi physically going to his office, the administration did not want him to act in the capacity of city manager. “We trust he won’t,” he said.

If his contract was indeed irregular, it would compromise the legality of any contracts he now signed on behalf of the city.

He said if Mgoqi was able to get legal opinion that he was entitled to stay on, “then we’ll have to negotiate what can be done”.

On Saturday, Parks said the DA “tried to hide its illegal and racist attempt to fire” Mgoqi from being openly discussed by the council.—Sapa

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