Wayward Nkomazi Local Municipality mayor Johan Mkhatshwa has appointed a municipal manager despite Mpumalanga Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs MEC Mandla Ndlovu having written to the Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) to withdraw his name as an ANC representative.
Ndlovu wrote to the IEC on June 24 to declare that the positions of mayor and speaker were vacant as a last resort to see Mkhatshwa’s back.
Mkhatshwa has been clinging to power since November 23.
He was not supposed to have come back for a second term as mayor after the ANC NEC tipped Phindile Magagula to take over after conducting interviews.
READ: Mpumalanga Cogta MEC declares vacancies in Nkomazi municipality to end a six-month reign of renegade mayor
But, Mkhatshwa and a cabal of renegade councillors, who were supported by the EFF, elected him as mayor and Simphiwe Mashele as council speaker.
Mkhatshwa has appointed supply chain manager Moses Manzini as municipal manager on June 27.
This is going to spark another row as the decision must be ratified by the province’s Cogta MEC before Manzini’s appointment is complete.
The latest development pits Mkhatshwa against Ndlovu.
Mkhatshwa’s obstinance stems from the support he gets from one ANC faction.
When he defied the ANC’s decision, his faction was hoping to win the provincial conference in April but failed when Ndlovu won the conference and became provincial ANC chairperson.
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Mkhatshwa and five Nkomazi councillors, which the ANC fired for defying the party, launched an application in the South Gauteng High Court to interdict the IEC from filing the vacancies and arranging by-elections in wards 3 and 10 to replace two of the ward councillors whom the ANC expelled.
They claim that the filling of the vacancies should be put on hold pending their appeal against their dismissal from the party.
Mpumalanga Cogta spokesperson Lindiwe Msibi did not answer written questions by the time of publication.
Mkhatshwa has been relying on the support of suspended ANC Ehlanzeni regional chairperson Ngrayi Ngwenya, who has publicly slammed the ANC for not giving the mayoral job to Mkhatshwa.
Ngwenya is serving a five-year suspension.
Ngwenya was among the supporters who travelled to Nkandla to protect Zuma against incarceration.
Nkomazi is the ANC’s only remaining headache after it won back the Msukaligwa Local Municipality from renegade councillors on March 31.
The party made a mistake when it appointed Agnes Mahlalela, Vuyiswa Madini and Samkelo Buthelezi as interim mayor, speaker and chief whip following the November 1 local government elections to rectify a mix-up of proportional representative councillors’ names that were submitted to the IEC.
The trio refused to vacate their positions and turned around to accuse the ANC of removing them because they had uncovered corruption that implicated senior leaders in the Gert Sibande region.
READ: ‘Wayward’ Msukaligwa trio takes Mpumalanga ANC to court in bid to be reinstated
They were removed by a vote of no confidence on March 31 and the ANC appointed Shirley Nkosi as acting mayor, Ntombifuthi Nhlaba as acting speaker and Pretty Sibeko as acting chief whip.
Mahlalela, Madini and Buthelezi have, however, filed papers in the Mpumalanga division of the High Court in Middelburg to be reinstated.
They argued that the March 30 council meeting did not reach a quorum because it was only attended by 16 councillors. Msukaligwa has 38 councillors, 24 of whom belong to the ANC.