ANC faces rebellion in Matatiele

2012-04-14 16:12

ANC leaders in the Eastern Cape have been scrambling this week to contain infighting among municipal councillors who fired senior leaders without permission.

In Matatiele on Friday, the council failed to give ousted mayor Ntombovuyo Nkopane her job back, as provincial ANC secretary Oscar Mabuyane had ordered.

The council fired Nkopane because she defied resolutions and refused to attend public hearings with residents.

She is also accused of having councillors’ phones bugged and their houses raided because she believed there was a plot to have her assassinated.

On Monday, councillors at the Mnquma Local Municipality in Butterworth refused to reinstate their speaker and another mayoral committee member who were kicked out without the party’s blessings.

Mabuyane said the defiant councillors now faced charges of bringing the party into disrepute.

The Mnquma group was already served with notices to appear before a disciplinary committee on April 23.

“Very soon we will be serving them (Matatiele) with notices to appear before the disciplinary committee and once we get a report on what happened there, we might add to their charges,” Mabuyane said.

“It is absolutely worrying to have people behaving in any manner they wish.”

Nkopane was booted out of Matatiele’s executive council for the third time on March 29. She then approached the Mthatha High Court to review and set aside the council’s resolution to remove her from her R49 000-a-month job.

The municipality used this court challenge at Friday’s special meeting as a reason to defy Mabuyane’s instruction and instead resolved to allow the court process to be concluded before discussing the matter as a council.

“Advice we got from the municipality is that the matter is in court and cannot be discussed, and we agreed,” said a senior ANC municipal councillor.

“At (Eastern Cape ANC headquarters) Calata House she was told to drop the case, but she hasn’t, which tells us we’re on the right path because she is still hostile.”

ANC councillors refused to speak on the record about the axing, fearing punishment by the province.

Acting Mayor Momelezi Mbedle said: “There have been problems in the past and we have been raising this internally with ANC leadership. We cannot discuss any detail.”

Insiders said Nkopane was fired because she regularly defied executive committee resolutions and refused to attend Integrated Development Programme (IDP) public hearings with residents.

She is also accused of bugging phones and ordering raids of several councillors’ homes, including those of Mbedle and chief whip Pulelo Mohale, because she believed there was a plot to assassinate her.

“There have been reports written since last year to the leadership, and many of us want to know why nothing was done with them,” said another.

“Besides the IDP issue, on many occasions she has confused the public by speaking against decisions of the executive.”

Mohale confirmed three raids late last year on his home by crime intelligence police officers, adding that this “bred mistrust” between him and the mayor.

“Honestly, it’s difficult for me to even call her because I did not want it to seem as if I was trying to track her whereabouts.”

Nkopane initially agreed to an interview with the City Press, but later failed to pitch up or answer her phone.

An SIU probe into Alfred Nzo District Municipality recently revealed that Nkopane is one of three district councillors who fraudulently earned a combined R737 940 in salaries they did not deserve.

District municipal spokesperson Mpumzi Zuzile said Nkopane was overpaid by R54 000 between August and November 2009, when she was Matatiele’s councillor to the district.

Last year ANC councillors at King Sabata Dalindyebo municipality were subjected to lie detector tests after an opposition councillor lost the mayoral seat by only two votes. This was in spite of the party having 46 councillors in the 70-seat council.

This was followed by trouble at Peddie’s Ngqushwa Local Municipality, where the speaker was removed by his comrades without party approval.

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