Opposition parties have expressed their concerns at the near-collapse of municipalities in the North West, which they say was a direct result of ANC political interference and factional battles.
These concerns came out through motions without notices during a provincial legislature sitting on Tuesday, where the ANC was challenged to get its house in order at local government. This follows the recent recalling of troikas – mayors, speakers and chief whips – in five municipalities across the province.
Less than half of the affected 15 ANC deployees had resigned by Saturday, and the party said it was still going to engage those who were defying orders for them to submit their resignation letters.
The recalls have widely been seen as factionalism at play, with those targeted being aligned to a faction associated with the former premier of the North West, Supra Mahumapelo.
The ANC said it was recalling them on the basis of poor performances of their municipalities in terms of service delivery and administration, but other quarters of the ANC in the province felt that those at the helm of the worst municipalities had been left untouched by the party’s interim provincial committee (IPC) led by Hlomane Chauke because of factional reasons.
Chauke, who is the IPC coordinator, said last week that the five municipalities where the officials were recalled were the first batch of municipalities in which the IPC was intervening. He said they have planned to act on more municipalities, but were ordered by Luthuli House to do it in phases.
It was, however, not known when the second phase will come as the IPC was still struggling to get all its deployees to vacate their positions to become ordinary councillors.
Oppositions parties said all these frictions within the governing party were having a negative impact on service delivery in municipalities.
An EFF member of the provincial legislature (MPL), Kelebogile Kerileng, said her party has noted the defiance by ANC deployees in five municipalities.
She called on the governing party to fix local government in the province because internal ANC matters were now affecting service delivery in communities across the province.
“It is not the business of the EFF to be concerned about internal matters of the ruling party, but when municipal buildings are blocked, we will speak as a party because it means communities can’t access services. Where violence becomes endemic in municipalities, we will raise our voices because it means our people end up being casualties of war,” Kerileng said.
“It is our view as the EFF that internal power struggles inside the ANC should not be used to undermine the stability of local government in the province. Already local government in South Africa is besieged with corruption.”
Kerileng cited several other things which she said were wrong in North West municipalities.
“All 22 municipalities in the province have high vacancy rates of senior managers [and] despite a call by President Cyril Ramaphosa that competent and qualified people be hired in the municipalities, poorly qualified individuals in the ruling party are still being given the responsibility to run municipalities. It is not right to find teachers and priests as municipal managers in the province,” she said.
“Political interference in supply chain of many municipalities is rife despite provisions and structures which separates administration and political leadership … many mayors still harass municipal managers in terms of tenders. Administrators have also become another liability …instead of stabilising municipalities they also see a need to enrich themselves [and] all efforts of turning municipalities around in the province have failed dismally.”
The DA in the North West said they were not going to be part of the councils where the ANC would use its caucus to remove their members from positions of deployment through motions. The ANC IPC have previously told City Press that the party will use its caucuses to remove those who continue to be defiant through motions in council.
“Our councillors will abstain from all those motions. Basically there is nothing they do in good faith,” said DA MPL Freddy Sonakile.
“It is all about factional battles more than anything else. It is clear that the officials targeted belong to a certain faction, hence our decision not to involve ourselves in things that have got nothing to do with the improvement of service delivery, but internal battles of the party.”
The opposition parties were told by ANC MPLs not to concern themselves with their party internal matters. Social development MEC who is also acting local government MEC, Boitumelo Moiloa denied that ANC mayors were interfering in administration and “harassing municipal managers”.
“Deployees of the ANC know how to behave in municipalities and mayors were not interfering with supply chain and not harassing municipal managers. While we acknowledge challenges in municipalities, EFF members were also part of it … they were caught on tape saying they want money before they can pass the budget,” Moiloa said.
Attempts to get an update from the ANC IPC spokesperson, Kenny Morolong, on how the party was doing in terms of getting its defiant employees to resign from their positions drew a blank.