Sol Plaatje Mayor steps down following reinstatement by the court

The executive mayor of Sol Plaatje municipality Mangaliso Matika has resigned after months of unrest in the Northern Cape capital, Kimberley.

ANC provincial secretary Deshi Ngxanga welcomed Matika’s resignation at a press conference on Monday night, saying the decision had been in the “best interests of the community”. He said the Sol Plaatje municipality had been in “constant engagement with Matika” and the regional executive committee and the national executive committee.

The ANC regional executive committee will now provide the provincial executive committee with three potential candidates to become the new mayor.

Matika had been asked to leave office after he lost a motion of no confidence during a special meeting of council on July 5. The Democratic Alliance then sought an interdict on July 31 preventing Matika challenging his removal.

Last Friday, the Judge President of the Northern Cape High Court Pule Tlaletsi found the council’s decision to unseat Matika on July 5 had been illegal. Judge Tlaletsi found that councillors had been excluded from the July 5 meeting and that the proper protocols had not been followed for the meeting.

The decision was greeted with outrage, particularly among community organisations in Greenpoint, Beaconsfield and Galeshewe that immediately planned public protests, vowing to bring Kimberley to a standstill. The main access routes north and south out of Kimberley were briefly closed off on Sunday night and Monday morning.

A heavy police presence though prevented any violent outbreaks.

Matika stepped down on Monday night despite Judge Tlaletsi’s reinstatement.

Matika became unpopular when he attempted to introduce a R260 flat fee for “electricity availability” for all homes connected to the grid on July 1 this year, in addition to regular prepaid or monthly bills. As one protester at the time put it: “We have to pay to be able to pay for electricity”.

“We respect Matika for taking the decision that he has taken and know that he will continue to lead the ANC as regional chairperson,” Ngxanga said on Monday night.

Chairperson of community activist group Wanya Tsotsi, Pantsi Obusitse, welcomed Matika’s decision to step down, saying Monday night’s planned protests had been called off following the announcement.

He warned though that whoever replaced Matika would be held to the same level of accountability.

“Whoever is appointed as the new mayor must have the interest of ratepayers at heart and must remain accountable, especially with regards to how taxpayers’ money is spent. Should the new mayor fail to do that, they must know that the community will stand up for what is right,” Obusitse told local Kimberley newspaper the DFA.

“We are all ready to roll up our sleeves and to make this city a better place to live in,” Obusitse added.

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