Ex-ANC mayor joined DA for ‘financial considerations’ – ANC

2013-11-05 10:51

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The ANC in Mpumalanga says it is “regrettable” to lose a former mayor to the DA but insists the defection does not reflect disillusionment within the party.

Richard Lukhele, the former mayor of Umjindi municipality in Barberton, left the ANC to join the DA last week.

Lukhele served two terms as mayor and was also the ANC Ehlanzeni region’s treasurer before Premier David Mabuza’s camp swept all regional and provincial executive committee positions in 2011 and last year.

While treasurer in 2011, Lukhele complained to then ANC treasurer-general Mathews Phosa that Ehlanzeni secretary Pat Ngomane had taken control of the party’s finances and left him redundant.

At that time, Phosa confirmed he would investigate misappropriation of about R7 million of the party’s funds but nothing came of it.

Mpumalanga ANC spokesperson Siphosezwe Masango said: “It’s always regrettable to see someone who was a senior deployee crossing the floor to join a party like the DA, which is symmetrically opposed to the transformation we want to bring. He’s joining a party that wants to protect white privilege.

“However, we’re a democratic state and people are free to join a party of their choice. I suspect what has influenced him is financial considerations (the hope of getting a paying position). In a period before elections we’ll see a lot of re-alignment where people feel that new is better. In previous elections there was United Democratic Movement (UDM), Congress of the People (Cope) and now it’s Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) and Agang. The same thing will happen in 2019,” he added.

Lukhele was not available on his cellphone to comment, but DA provincial leader Anthony Benadie said he brought 19 years of public service experience to the party.

“Lukhele’s decision to join the DA comes after more than two years of introspection and a critical evaluation of the ANC, and what it has become under the leadership of president Jacob Zuma and Mpumalanga Premier David Mabuza.

“His conclusion that ANC members and public office bearers serve at the pleasure of the ruling clique at the expense of those who voted them into power, is a damning indictment of what the ANC has become,” Benadie said.

“As it is in the rest of South Africa, governance and politics have reached a tipping point in Mpumalanga, and the DA believes that Mr Lukhele’s brave decision to join our ranks will encourage others, who share his disillusionment with the ANC, to change their political home,” he added.

Masango said the fact that the ANC had recently lost former Thaba Chweu (Lydenburg) council chief whip, Paul Mogotsenyana, to the EFF in September did not mean that infighting was forcing party members to leave.

Mogotsenyana said he resigned for the second time as ANC councillor over “too much corruption” in the ailing municipality.

Masango said there was not much to read into the fact that the ANC has lost wards after by-elections to the DA and the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) over the past two years.

The ANC lost Graskop in Thaba Chweu to the DA in 2011. It had controlled that ward since 1994.

Early this year, it lost a ward in Mayflower to the IFP. That position became vacant after Mabuza fired an ANC councillor following service delivery protests.

“We’ll of course be worried when we lose a ward where we’ve been in control. It means we need to do introspection and some analysis,” said Masango.

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