ANC loses power in Mkhondo after party leader turns

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Andries Gamede
Andries Gamede

NEWS


A senior ANC member in Mpumalanga is the architect of the party’s downfall in the Mkhondo Local Municipality in Piet Retief, where it lost the powerful seats of mayor, Speaker and chief whip for the first time since the dawn of democracy.

Andries Gamede, a prominent ANC member who has held a string of senior positions in the party and government, cost the party by deciding to be a turncoat.

The former mayor of both Mkhondo and the Gert Sibande District Municipality, Gamede headed various departments as an MEC. He was also the ANC chairperson of the Gert Sibande region and the party’s provincial treasurer.

READ: ANC Mpumalanga political turf gets ugly as Msibi allies report multiple assassination incidents

He was so disillusioned by the ANC’s many failures, among them poor service delivery, maladministration and corruption, that when his complaints fell on deaf ears, he turned against the party.

He formed the Independent Community Movement Association, a civic organisation that fielded independent candidates in the elections early this month. Despite the ANC getting an outright majority of 54.04% – a significant drop from 76.41% in 2016 – the Mkhondo municipality has a new mayor, Mthokozisi Simelane, from the independents.

New Speaker Mduduzi Dlamini is from the African Transformation Movement, which got 1.93% of the votes. Siphesihle Mkhwanazi of the EFF was elected as chief whip. The EFF got 18.19% of the vote.

However, Gamede told City Press this week that he was still a member of the ANC even though he had campaigned vigorously against the party.

“There is the SA National Civic Organisation [in the council]. Was any ANC member fought for being a member of it?” Gamede asked.

He said he had tried “very hard” to alert the ANC leadership and the national government departments – including the presidency – about the many issues that were weakening the Mkhondo municipality, but he had not received any response.

Gamede said:

You can say the Independent Community Movement Association is my brainchild. The ANC has become an organisation of criminals who are stealing people’s money.

“We did intervene and tried to talk to the department of cooperative governance and traditional affairs, as well as the presidency. We did not get any joy,” said Gamede.

He said that the civic organisation would launch branches in Mkhondo and expand to other areas.

Mandla Ndlovu, the acting provincial ANC chairperson, said that the party had heard about Gamede’s role in the party’s loss in Mkhondo.

“We will investigate, but there has been no formal complaint brought before us against Gamede,” Ndlovu said.

UNRESOLVED CANDIDATENOMINATION DISPUTES

The ANC’s position was also weakened by factionalism.

The party is about to convene the long-overdue provincial elective conference.

This has been pending since the party’s deputy president, David Mabuza, relinquished his position as Mpumalanga ANC chairperson in 2017, which is when he was elected as a national executive committee member.

Mabuza’s failure to anoint his successor has left the province fragmented. There is the Ngci faction, which has Mabuza’s backing, and the Focus faction led by Ndlovu.

As a result of the split, six Mkhondo councillors, including former mayor Vusi Motha, threw a spanner in the works when they resigned just before the inaugural meeting of the newly elected council, which was held to elect the mayor, Speaker and chief whip.

READ: Prominent Mpumalanga ANC member could be arrested for murder

Motha said the councillors quit because they objected to the “factional” nomination processes.

“There were 11 councillors who wanted to resign because the nomination process had been factional in favour of the Focus group. We advised the other five not to resign because they are new councillors, but [encouraged them] to use their conscience when they voted for the mayor, Speaker and chief whip,” Motha said.

He said that “girlfriends and friends” were put on the candidate list, and the disgruntled councillors wanted those disputes to be resolved before they were sworn in.

Motha was number one on the proportional representation list of 19, but claimed that someone who did not make it on to the list was imposed on them: “This person did not campaign and was not among the 19 on the proportional representation list. How could they do that?”

Motha said that, even though he was top of the list, he had no interest in returning as mayor, but the ANC in the Gert Sibande region had asked him to avail himself.

POOR SERVICE DELIVERY COST ANC THE LEKWA MUNICIPALITY

In the Lekwa Local Municipality in Standerton, the ANC’s downfall was also orchestrated by disillusioned former members who had become weary of the poor service delivery and factionalism. The ANC got 42.03% of the vote.

Lekwa Community Forum (LCF) member Louis Thabethe was installed as the new mayor and Oliver Phiri as the Speaker. The EFF’s Dumisani Msibi was elected chief whip.

Thabethe said he was still an ANC member, but they had formed the LCF when they realised that maladministration and poor service delivery was getting out of hand.

Thabethe said:

We started working with the local businesses to repair water leaks, attend to sewage spills and shacks catching fire.

Factionalism affected the municipality so much that it had to be put under administration in June last year. ANC councillors had tried to remove mayor Linda Dlamini and Speaker Khosi Khota by voting with the opposition parties to pass a vote of no confidence.

Through browbeating, the ANC forced its councillors to reinstate Dlamini and Khota, but that let to its downfall.


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Sizwe sama Yende 

Journalist

+27 11 713 9001
sizwe.yende@citypress.co.za
www.citypress.co.za
69 Kingsway Rd, Auckland Park





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