Mayors get the axe as ANC tries to ‘rejuvenate’ itself before elections

2015-07-28 14:42
Mpumalanga premier David Mabuza.

Mpumalanga premier David Mabuza. (Leon Sadiki)

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Johannesburg - The ANC in Mpumalanga has fired four mayors in some of the province’s under-performing municipalities a few months before the local government elections. 

ANC provincial secretary, Lucky Ndinisa, told a media briefing this morning that Salome Sithole (Emalahleni mayor), Caroline Morajane (Lekwa in Standerton), Tiny Mthimunye (Dr JS Moroka in Siyabuswa) and Bafana Ncongwane (Thaba Chweu in Lydenburg) had been recalled. 

Their replacements were Lindiwe Ntshalintshali (Emalahleni), Linda Dlamini (Lekwa), Rhoda Mathabe (Moroka) and Selina Mathabe (Thaba Chweu). 

Ndinisa said the decision was taken by the provincial executive committee yesterday. 

“The committee has, over the past few months, assessed the state of governance, with particular focus on the state and its capacity to effectively respond to current challenges,” he said. 

“Its work has paid particular attention to local government as we prepare and lay the foundation for the 2016 local government elections,” Ndinisa added. 

He could not give reasons for the recall, but insisted that this was the party’s attempt to “rejuvenate” and “energise” itself. 

The four municipalities were teetering on the brink of collapse – failing to deliver services and drowning in debt. Thaba Chweu, Emalahleni and Lekwa were among 20 municipalities countrywide that Eskom threatened to cut off for failing to pay their R4-billion debt. 

About a year ago, a task team assigned to turn around Thaba Chweu found that it spent about R32 million a year on security. This included guards being posted at a landfill site, an electric transformer and a police station. 

Emalahleni has failed to improve and continued to get disclaimers even though Mpumalanga premier David Mabuza’s cabinet hired an administrator to fix the mess in 2013. The administrator, Theo van Vuuren – who has since been appointed acting municipal manager – spent about R20 million on bodyguards to protect senior managers following workers’ protests about corruption. 

Ndinisa said the new mayors might be retained or redeployed after the 2016 local government elections. The mayors would not be the only targets, he said. The ANC planned to rein in poor-performing municipal managers as well. 

About two years ago, Mabuza made municipal managers sign letters stipulating that they would voluntarily resign if their institutions received disclaimers from the Auditor-General. 

Mabuza had not yet followed up on this initiative. 

“The recall [of the mayors] is part of [the] process … the first phase. We’re attending to ourselves as politicians and the second phase will be the administration. Municipal managers are our [deployments] and [we] will act on them,” Ndinisa said.

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