The removal of five municipal mayors by the ANC North West interim provincial committee (IPC) has been welcomed by some within the party while others have interpreted it as a decision influenced by factionalism.
On Friday the mayors, speakers and chief whips from Mahikeng, Ditsobotla, Maquassi Hills and Matlosana local municipalities as well as Dr Ruth Segomotsi Mompati District Municipality were removed from their positions.
But some strongly felt that the five mayors were acted upon while there were the “big fish” whose municipalities were the worst were left untouched.
The ANC Women’s League (ANCWL) in the province said it had already told its members who were removed to defy the decision and stay put.
Bitsa Lenkopane, the women’s league acting provincial secretary, said the IPC decision was “just a factional thing that has got nothing to do with those individuals’ performances”.
However, coordinator of the IPC, Hlomane Chauke, said the removal of the five mayors was “only the beginning”. He described the move as “the first round” when asked by the media why the five municipalities were acted upon and not others with even bigger scandals and worse financial audit outcomes.
Rustenburg and Madibeng local municipalities as well as Ngaka Modiri Molema District Municipality were expected to have been on Chauke’s list.
Chauke announced the IPC’s decision on Friday which he said was taken following a “rigorous assessment” of municipalities in the they ran.
“The failure of the municipal leadership to provide the requisite oversight has resulted in the collapse of the municipal administration. Even more perturbing for the IPC is the inability of these municipalities to discharge their constitutional mandate and provide much needed services to our communities,” Chauke said.
“While the IPC has, in line with the ANC constitution, gone to great lengths to guide and reign in its deployees, some of these councillors have remained defiant and uncooperative. Ordinarily, the IPC would not have preferred to recall these deployees given the reality that local government elections will be held next year ... however, we can no longer overstretch the growing impatience of our communities with our public representatives.”
Chauke said the IPC was expecting its decision to be welcomed by all party members.
“As we effect these changes, the ANC will require maximum unity among all its members, supporters and society. The IPC will expect ANC members to close ranks and to build a well oiled machinery, capable of uniting the people of the province and the broadest range of all sectors of society to accelerate service delivery,” he said.
However, Lenkopane said they made it clear in the IPC meetings that they did not support the decision to remove the officials.
“You don’t just wake up and take a decision to remove people, even those who are at the helm of municipalities that are under section 139 administration. All the five municipalities in this case are under administration and those who are removed as well as municipal managers have got no powers over the municipal business but yet they have been assessed … how do you expect them to fix things when they are powerless under administration?” she said.
“They [IPC] don’t have reasons to remove these people. The other thing is that they [IPC] are interfering too much in the administration and affairs of municipalities.”
Lenkopane said there were municipalities with worst audit outcomes and scandals, citing Ngaka Modiri Molema District Municipality and its dubious R93 million Covid-19 coronavirus-related expenditure which has been under the spotlight in the provincial legislature.
She said the decision to remove the mayors and others was unfair on them and said the women’s league had already sought an audience with the governing party’s national leaders to express its dissatisfaction and get the decision nullified.
“That thing is not going to happen … they don’t have reasons. We have asked for a meeting with the national executive committee officials and we will tell them that we have told our people to defy the decision of the IPC,” she said.
Meanwhile, Cosatu in the North West has welcomed the decision to effect some deployment changes by the ANC as “long overdue as some of these municipalities were on the verge of collapse and there was no service delivery to the communities which these municipalities were supposed to service”.
“We have also noted that the comrades in the councils are preoccupied with their political factional programme as opposed to doing the work they are deployed to do and in the process the communities suffer. Most municipalities in the province failed to perform their functions due to poor leadership and this led to adverse audit findings from the Auditor-General,” Cosatu provincial secretary, Kopano Konopi said.
But the union federation had some reservations that the successors would be decided by next week.
“While Cosatu welcomes this decision, we hope that the ANC IPC will rise above petty factional interests when they redeploy new comrades in these positions which have now become vacant,” Konopi said.