Two mayors, 22 unhappy councillors and 27 bodyguards

2014-11-09 15:00

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A small Limpopo municipality now has two elected mayors and two elected Speakers – and both sets insist they are in charge.

The Mogalakwena Local Municipality in Mokopane got a second mayor on Thursday: an ANC man who was unseated earlier this year by members of his party in coalition with opposition councillors.

Tlhalefi Mashamaite enraged his political opponents by, among others, spending R1?million of the municipality’s money to employ 27 bodyguards for his personal protection.

Forensic auditors have recommended that criminal charges be laid against Mashamaite

for the alleged misuse of public funds.

He was replaced by William Mabuela, who was expelled by the ANC with 21 of his colleagues for working with the opposition to vote out Mashamaite.

But on Thursday, Mashamaite was reappointed at a meeting convened by Limpopo’s cooperative governance, human settlements and traditional affairs MEC Makoma Makhurupetje.

The vote had to be held at Mokopane’s Oasis Lodge after Mabuela obtained a court interdict barring Makhurupetje and Mashamaite from entering the municipal building.

On Friday, Mabuela’s supporters again locked the gates at the municipal buildings – so Mashamaite held his first meeting with his executive at the lodge.

Mabuela said after Thursday’s election that the ANC in Limpopo and the provincial government were on a “political crusade” to restore Mashamaite to his old position.

“Mogalakwena has an annual budget of R1.8?billion and our municipality is also blessed with mines – and comrades want shares in these mines,” said Mabuela.

“For them to succeed, they need a mayor and Speaker who will take orders from leaders who are businesspeople and will award contracts to their preferred companies.”

If Mabuela and his group of 21 go to court this week to overturn Mashamaite’s election, it will be yet another legal battle in what’s rapidly becoming a full-blown war.

The ANC insists the 22 have had the court application challenging their expulsion from the party dismissed.

Mabuela and his allies say the matter is still pending and that until the court rules, he remains the mayor and the others are still councillors. City Press asked for a copy of the court order upholding their expulsion, but neither the ANC in Limpopo nor the cooperative governance department had produced it at the time of going to press.

The ANC is standing by Mashamaite.

Limpopo ANC secretary Nocks Seabi said Mashamaite was “innocent until proven guilty”.

He said the party was studying the KPMG report and if “satisfied that someone is in the wrong, there will be consequences”.

Provincial cooperative governance department spokesperson Motupa Selomo said it was up to Mashamaite and his executive to remove Mabuela’s group.

“They are now in charge. They must use legal ways to remove the illegitimate councillors who were expelled by their party,” he said.

The department intends to investigate the allegations contained in the forensic report compiled by KPMG and the findings of the Auditor-General (AG) in his most recent audit.

“We would like to see a comprehensive forensic audit on financial management, procurement and provision of services and infrastructure covering the period from 2011/12 to the 2013/14 financial years.

“This therefore means an investigation of the findings of the KPMG report and the AG, and implementation of outcomes without failure,” said the department.

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