Mayors axed over links to Cassel Mathale

2014-06-29 15:00

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The axing of four mayors in Limpopo is the first phase of a plan that will see the ANC in the province rid local government of all senior politicians with links to former premier Cassel Mathale, ANC politicians say.

Early this week, the ANC in Limpopo axed Capricorn district mayor Lawrence Mapoulo, Joshua Matlou of Mopani, Wendy Matemane of Elias Motsoaledi and Nkosi Mahlake of the Greater Tubatse Local Municipality. ANC Limpopo secretary Knox Seabi said the mayors were removed because of corruption and poor service delivery.

But people from within the regional leadership as well as some of the toppled mayors say the ANC’s initial plan, which it later decided to implement in phases, was to axe 14 mayors allied to Mathale.

President Jacob Zuma fired Mathale last July after his ­administration nearly ran the province into the ground, prompting Pretoria to place it under administration.

“They wanted to axe 14 mayors. But they later decided to implement it in phases. This is phase one; others will follow,” said a source, adding that the mayors’ removal had nothing to do with service delivery and corruption. “They are purging all mayors who were close to Cassel.”

Mapoulo, who became mayor in 2009, said he doubted their removal had anything to do with service delivery.

“When I arrived here, the municipality had nine disclaimers from the Auditor-General. Since then, we have improved and we have ­received qualified audits.”

A source said Mapoulo’s removal was also aimed at preventing him from being re-elected as chairperson of the Capricorn region, a position he held ­before the region was disbanded last year.

Fresh elections are due soon. Mapoulo had worked hard and improved the municipality’s grading from level three to five.

“Capricorn was one level away from being a metro,” he said.

Another source agreed. “Capricorn and ­Mopani are quite stable municipalities. Of course they have issues, but the reasons for axing these mayors have to be found elsewhere. They can be justified at Elias Motsoaledi as the council was broken, but not the rest. This is factionalism.”

Seabi, said the source, informed Mapoulo and Matlou about their fate on Monday. “He didn’t even tell them why they were being ­recalled.”

The ANC also announced that it would reconfigure the political management teams of many municipalities, which include the posts of ­mayor, speaker and chief whip.

At least two of the four mayors are friends of Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader ­Julius Malema. Joshua Matlou and Lawrence Mapoulo are alleged to be part of the new faction of rebels, named “Boko Haram” by their opponents in the ANC.

One of the sacked mayors denied being a factionalist, but said instead there were other factions and not only Boko Haram. Others included the Finland Group, which is linked to former Limpopo premier Sello Moloto.

“Divisions are there and different groups with various agendas and the provincial executive committee chose to crucify us,” he said.

Matlou denied links to Boko Haram, but confirmed he was still Malema’s close friend and “there was nothing wrong with that”.

Apart from stories around the poor water supply to his former municipality in Mopani district, many believe he is being punished after his council awarded tenders to Malema allies and thereby possibly funded the EFF.

Mapoulo told City Press: “Boko Haram is a devil and imperialist structure. I can’t be linked to that. I was Malema’s mentor since he was nine and I am the one who can bring him back to the ANC and not the other way around.

“There are people who want to push me out of the ANC but I am going nowhere. I can’t be Julius’ enemy because of our political differences.”

The ANC in Limpopo denied allegations that the mayors’ axing was a result of their links to factional groups.

ANC provincial spokesperson Khumbudzo Ntshavheni said: “The move was all about enhancing service delivery as well as good governance and nothing else.”

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