*Note: The initial headline was changed (see below)
The EFF has outwitted the ANC in Rustenburg, in the process exposing the depth of tender corruption in the ANC-run municipality as well as the shambles in the governing party’s North West structures.
EFF councillor in Rustenburg Abinaar Matlhoko told City Press on Thursday that he leaked the audio recordings of the conversations he had with ANC mayor Mpho Khunou and party chief whip Amos Mataboge because the governing party was not only corrupt, but “its leaders are foolish and amateurish”.
The series of three recordings start with the discovery of tender rot, but later take a comical turn when Mataboge gets involved – going as far as declaring to an opposition councillor that his party, the ANC, was led by “blind” and “weak” people and that the party at provincial level was on its death bed.
The fallout started early last month when Khunou disclosed to Matlhoko some of the findings of the ongoing forensic investigation into the municipality’s fleet contract. Among the findings was that the municipality paid the contractor for petrol (R20 per litre), towbars (R11 000 per vehicle), canopies (R65 000 per vehicle) and tracking systems (R29 000 per vehicle).
“I am just discovering horror stories,” Khunou could be heard saying in the recording.
He said the chief financial officer “almost resigned” because of the apparent rot but “never told me the real reason”.
Khunou also said the “vehicles bought far exceed the needs identified by the officials by three times”. In addition, he said, the cars were purchased through a service provider, who then “enjoys the discount benefits”.
“What we are doing is to cover up information. We are in the phase of confirming that we have all the documentation. Then we will call a meeting with no agenda where they will brief everybody.”
The mayor told Matlhoko that while he had previously accused him of “tribalism” when he was questioning the fleet tender, it appeared that he was correct all along.
Matlhoko told City Press on Thursday that Khunou and Mataboge were “just confirming that they are powerless, running in the wilderness”.
“They are from the ANC and they are able to report to [the] opposition. If you report to the opposition, what do you think I will do? You are giving me ammunition to deal with you as the opposition.”
Matlhoko said he did not regret leaking the recordings because “they take me as their leader, I am leading them, and they are reporting to me”.
He said his gripe was also that Khunou should have already opened a criminal case against those involved in the alleged tender fraud.
“Why does the mayor not open a criminal case? You cannot take forensic people to investigate criminal conduct. We have got the police to do that job.”
If a person bought a towbar for R11 000 while it costs less than R2 000 “that is criminal, and the mayor must open a criminal case”, he said.
Khunou said the probe was not yet complete and he would only comment once the process was concluded.
In June City Press reported that municipal vehicles in Rustenburg were grounded for days without fuel. Khunou said then that this was due to a dispute with the service provider after the council discovered contractual irregularities and a string of suspicious payments, including two recent invoices totalling R31 million.
An arrangement was made for an alternative supply of fuel. When the municipality started investigating the contract the fuel price was R16.57.
In April, Rustenburg municipal manager Nqobile Sithole resigned amid claims from the opposition that she had been stripped of her powers and pushed out to allow the ANC administration access to municipal resources for electioneering, an allegation that Khunou then dismissed.
In her resignation letter, Sithole said she left because of constant attacks on her office, faceless propaganda, interference in her work and tribalism.
In a follow up recording after the conversation with Matlhoko, it appeared that Khunou called Mataboge with the same information. Mataboge would then call Matlhoko “after landing at the airport” to also express his shock.
Mataboge said he also tried to fight the fleet contract and at some point he was worried that he would be “assassinated”.
“We thought we bought the cars from national, but they were bought through a service provider,” Mataboge said.
He said the ANC had also deployed “weak” people as MMCs and that is why the running of the municipality was in shambles, citing as an example of the bus station which collapsed recently.
“The ANC has dumped us into a serious problem, putting people who have no capacity in charge. ANC processes of being led by blind people led us here. I am happy the mayor was bold enough to call you. It shows maturity,” Mataboge said.
* The initial headline created a wrong impression that the mayor was not allowed to speak to a fellow councillor on council matters, and that the ANC-mayor leaked infomation maliciously.
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