/ 9 October 2020

ANC’s North West troika clean-up flops

Supra Mahumapelo Addressing His Supporters.
Fanbase: Backers of Supra Mahumapelo (centre) celebrate after a court ruling that the decision to disband the ANC’s North West PEC was unlawful. Photo: Felix Dlangamandla/Gallo Images/Netwerk 24/Beeld

The ANC’s removal of the troikas of five North West municipalities as part of a clean-up of the party ahead of next year’s local government elections appears to have flopped in the face of resistance from its own structures in the province.

Mayors, chief whips and speakers recalled by the party have remained in office despite instructions from the provincial interim committee (PIC) last month to stand down .

As a result of the fightback by supporters of ousted premier and ANC provincial chairperson Supra Mahumapelo, the ANC also appears to have put on hold the plan to remove the leaders of another six municipalities, and a provincial cabinet reshuffle, which has been on the cards for several months.

This week, Mahumapelo backers from various branches agreed to defy instructions from the provincial and regional structures. The meeting also resolved to push back against the provincial government’s plan to place a number of municipalities under administration for financial mismanagement and wastage. 

North West: Branch defiance

Last week, Lerato Maogwe, the speaker of the Dr Ruth Mompati district municipality, chaired a full council meeting. On Thursday, the mayor, Boitumelo Mahlangu, chaired a meeting of the district command council, set up to coordinate responses to the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Both were among those ordered by the ANC to resign, because of failures of governance in the municipalities.

Kgabo Gaolatlhe, an ally of Mahumapelo and secretary of the Dr Ruth Mompati ANC region, which was disbanded by the provincial interim committee (PEC), confirmed that they had instructed the troikas not to leave office. 

The provincial interim committee was installed as a compromise between Mahumapelo and Luthuli House after he successfully challenged the national executive committee’s (NEC’s) to collapse the provincial executive committee.

Gaolatlhe said the ANC branches in the North West had rejected the recall on the grounds that the PIC had not followed correct procedures in telling them to stand down.

“There has never been any proper process, or communication in this matter. These comrades were given verbal instruction to resign, with no reasons provided. That is why the branches of the ANC and the region have instructed our troikas not to resign,” Gaolatlhe said.

“This was just a fishing expedition. The mayor is still in office. The speaker is still in office. The PIC was just bluffing. That is the situation right now.”

The leaders of four other municipalities — Mahikeng, Ditsobotla, Maquassi Hills and Matlosana — had also not resigned at the time of writing.

Gaolatlhe’s regional executive committee had challenged its disbandment in the high court in Johannesburg, with the ANC being put on terms to provide reasons for its dissolution. The party had submitted reasons for the disbandment of the provincial executive committee, but not the regional executive committee, by the return date on October 2.

Gaolatlhe said they wanted the NEC to disband the provincial interim committee and revert to the leadership elected by the ANC branches in the province.

“We are strongly advocating the disbandment of the PIC. We want the NEC to respect the constitution of the ANC and the country. There is a court ruling that directs the NEC to reinstate the PEC. Why are they dilly-dallying?” he said.

Thus far, no ANC members in the province have been called before the party’s integrity commission.

Gaolatlhe said although they agreed to participate in the process of appearing before the integrity commission, they believed the list compiled by provincial interim committee coordinator Hlomane Chauke was being used to fight factional battles. “We have no opposition to the implementation of any resolution of the NEC. We oppose their selective implementation to further factionalist agendas, as a means of frustrating those supportive of radical economic transformation,” he said. 

“The report of the PIC submitted to the NEC was a misrepresentation of the [legal] situation regarding a number of comrades [whose names appear on the list].”

The provincial interim committee met on Tuesday to discuss the impasse, but failed to agree on what action to take. It will meet again on Sunday.

Sources in the PIC said it was considering instituting disciplinary action against the troikas and petitioning the ANC’s councillors in the municipalities to recall them.

ANC North West spokesperson Kenny Morolong said the provincial executive committee would “reflect on the progress registered with respect to its decision to recall the troikas” on Sunday.

KwaZulu-Natal: Small steps 

Former Durban mayor Zandile Gumede, who is facing charges of corruption, finally made her appearance before the ANC’s provincial integrity commission. Last week she left it to the last minute to ask for a postponement so that she could seek further legal advice.

ANC spokesperson Nhlakanipho Ntombela said Gumede was the only person to appear before the integrity commission this week, and that several others were scheduled to appear next week. 

The integrity commission had, according to its report to the provincial executive committee, completed Gumede’s matter in the hearing that lasted two and a half hours, and she was not expected to appear again.

Two other ANC eThekwini councillors, Sthenjwa Nyawose and Zoe Shabalala, who were arrested last year in connection with the same R430-million waste removal tender as Gumede, are expected to be among the next party members to face the commission. They have been blocked from attending council meetings by the ANC eThekwini caucus, on instruction from the provincial executive committee.

Gauteng: Bye-bye Masuku — for now

On Friday, Gauteng Premier David Makhura fired health MEC Bandile Masuku on the basis of a Special Investigating Unit (SIU) report into the personal protective equipment (PPE) scandal involving a company owned by former spokesperson Khusela Diko’s husband, Thandisizwe.

The province’s integrity commission had recommended that Masuku and Khusela Diko be fired from both party and state office, but the provincial executive committee (PEC) had deferred the decision to allow the SIU to conclude their probe into the two, who are allies of Makhura. The PEC had been split on the matter, with at least eight members arguing in favour of allowing Masuku to remain in office. 

Makhura said he had not appointed a new health MEC yet, because the SIU had not completed its work — and because he may consider giving Masuku his job back should he be cleared of allegations of criminal behaviour. 

Jacob Mamobolo, the transport MEC, will continue to act as health MEC.

The SIU found that Masuku had failed to exercise oversight in his role as health MEC and had violated the Public Finance Management Act by allowing unlawful expenditure linked to PPE procurement by his department.

The SIU will continue its investigation into the transactions, while the Hawks and the National Prosecuting Authority are considering whether to pursue criminal charges against the two or Masuku’s wife, Loyiso.

The Inkatha Freedom Party and health worker unions have welcomed Makhura’s decision.

Masuku has indicated that he will challenge the findings of the SIU report.