Axed mayor returns

2014-06-04 00:00

A CONTROVERSIAL former KwaZulu-Natal ANC mayor, who was ousted by her own party amid claims of maladministration and corruption, has been appointed chairperson of a committee that acts as watchdog over spending on the royal household.

Bongi Sithole-Moloi’s political star is on the rise again following her election by the ANC to chair the crucial Premier and Royal Household portfolio committee in the provincial legislature.

Opposition parties were aghast at the appointment of the former uMgungundlovu District Municipality mayor in the role.

Sithole-Moloi was sacked as mayor in 2008 after the ANC cast a vote of no confidence against her.

It was reported in The Witness at the time that there was also a default judgment granted against her for not paying over R26 000 to an exclusive fashion boutique in Musgrave Centre, Durban.

Almost her entire household contents and a Mercedes-Benz car were due to go on sale in execution in April 2009 after she lost her council job.

uMgungundlovu DA caucus leader Sibongiseni Majola asked, “How can we trust someone who could not run her own household or the district municipality with playing an oversight role over the Premier and Royal Household?”

He described her as an “embarrassment” to KZN citizens and uMgungundlovu in particular.

Majola said Sithole-Moloi left the municipality bankrupt, and it only recovered after she had been removed from her position.

“We express our opinion on an individual based on their past, and her past experience does not even qualify her to be an MPL. Her becoming chairperson of a portfolio committee is definitely not something I would have imagined,” said Majola.

He said corruption allegations dogged Sithole-Moloi until uMgungundlovu councillor Themba Sathane Zungu, who was due to testify against her in court, died.

These concerned the alleged inflation of the price of a building bought by the municipality.

Another allegation levelled against Sithole-Moloi was that she had deposited R1,5 million meant for black economic empowerment into the personal account of businessman Lucky Moloi. She and Moloi later married.

DA councillor Roger Ashe, who worked with Sithole-Moloi when she was mayor, said: “I am extremely disappointed that they have reappointed her in view of her previous disappointing performance.”

Ashe said it was especially disappointing because it was the ANC that had removed her from her position.

The IFP leader in the legislature, Blessed Gwala, said, “Birds of a feather flock together. We were therefore not surprised at the appointment of Bongi Sithole-Moloi to this position.”

Gwala said it was clear that the ANC was only interested in promoting the interest of the party, and not service delivery.

However, the ANC defended its decision. Spokesperson Senzo Mkhize said, “We don’t want to be part of mudslinging and we make our decisions based on facts, something that can stand in a court of law, not based on allegations that we read from the newspapers.”

Mkhize said they did not want to destroy Sithole-Moloi’s “bright political future” based on allegations that could not be proved.

“We believe she is capable of serving the ANC and the people of this province in that position, otherwise we would not have elected her in that position,” he said.

Sithole-Moloi said she was not capable of changing negative perceptions that were created about her, which were based on lies designed to smear her name.

“When I got to the municipality, it had no money and it was not even getting clean audits. But since I was the mayor, the records are there to show that we were getting unqualified audits until I left,” she said.

She said she was “clean” and had nothing to prove to anyone.

“The allegations against me are nothing but a perception that had been created about me, nothing that can stand in a court of law,” she said, adding that she would make a positive contribution in her new role.

“I thank the ANC for showing confidence in my capabilities and I will be equal to the task given to me.”

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