Msimanga’s exit might not be as graceful as he had expected

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DA's Solly Msimanga at Tlhabologo Opportunity Centre. Picture: Palesa Dlamini
DA's Solly Msimanga at Tlhabologo Opportunity Centre. Picture: Palesa Dlamini

The DA’s premier candidate for Gauteng, Solly Msimanga, might not vacate his office as neatly as he had planned when he announced his resignation last week.

This week, the ANC in Tshwane informed City Press that the party would reject Msimanga’s resignation and would instead table a motion of no confidence in the mayor.

This comes after a report from the Auditor-General’s office revealed that Tshwane’s controversial multimillion-rand contract with GladAfrica was irregular.

As per council regulation, even after announcing his resignation, Msimanga is meant to appear before the caucus, which still holds the right to give its blessing to allow him to leave, but that may only happen after his resignation is set to take effect next month. However, by the looks of things, the mayor may have to brace himself for a serious fight should he wish to leave gracefully and not be forced out.

On Friday, ANC caucus spokesperson Lesego Makhubela told City Press: “The Auditor-General’s report does not come as a shock to the ANC … when we spoke of this, the DA, particularly Msimanga, accused us of cheap politicking.

“However, when we [the ANC] and some media houses started bringing forward evidence that the tender was awarded in a suspicious manner, Msimanga jumped ship and hung his city manager [Moeketsi Mosola] out to dry. We won’t accept his resignation … [we will] give him the unceremonious exit he deserves,” said Makhubela.

He added that “the timing of Msimanga’s resignation is suspicious. He knew that this report would open a can of worms, and he decided to leave and not account for his role in this entire debacle. Msimanga was the chairperson of the mayoral committee and had to sign off all tenders, particularly one as big as this [R12 billion].”

Makhubela also accused the mayor of using Mosola as a scapegoat, saying that “we cannot allow the DA to wash their hands of this matter and lay the blame solely on one individual”.

Mosola said: “The Auditor-General’s report is now a City of Tshwane council report and it will be presented in council on January 31. I have no authority to comment on council reports before they serve in council. Only once the report has gone through all the normal City of Tshwane processes pertaining to the conclusion of the Auditor-General’s annual report will my office release a statement to that effect.”

The EFF in Tshwane has so far blocked every attempt to get rid of Mosola, even when his own party deserted him. The EFF’s argument has been that there was no concrete evidence of wrongdoing against Mosola, and concluded that the DA was suspending him based on racial tensions brewing within the party’s Tshwane branch.

EFF Gauteng chairperson Mandisa Mashego told City Press that she and EFF Tshwane caucus leader Oliver Mabogwana had not seen the Auditor-General’s report, but, as soon as they were in possession of the report, “it will be interrogated and we will ensure that anyone found to be in the wrong faces the full might of the law”.

“Necessary processes need to be taken first … the only reason we did not support Mosola’s suspension was because we know that the DA is racist,” said Mashego.

Since the report says that “the City of Tshwane’s controversial multimillion-rand contract with GladAfrica is irregular” and that Msimanga failed to perform his oversight duties, the EFF might vote with the ANC this time and have enough of a majority to enforce a motion of no confidence in both Msimanga and Mosola.

The DA, through its member of the mayoral committee for finance Mare-Lise Fourie, basically exonerated Msimanga and solely blamed Mosola.

Fourie described Mosola as “the mastermind behind the awarding of the contract on August 15 2018”, and accused him of not properly reporting on “the executive appointment of GladAfrica in place of what was meant to be a panel of service providers, and the price tag of the award” to the mayoral committee.

“This is, by law, how the mayor holds the administration to account, unless, of course, crucial information is deliberately withheld by the administration,” said Fourie.

She added that a legal opinion expressly warned the city manager that the award would be irregular, and he ignored the opinion.

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