North West Premier Job Mokgoro has accused chairperson of the ad hoc committee on section 100 intervention in the province China Dodovu of inciting communities in what could bring about instability to the province.
Mokgoro, who appeared irritated during a virtual meeting between the committee and the provincial government on Monday, said to Dodovu “... you cannot be sitting here and saying things that would give justification for members of the community to get incited and bring about the instability of 2018 ... I just want to tell you that this is the most unfair oversight I’ve ever experienced.”
This was after Dodovu made some statements following an address by leaders of the community from Madibogo Pan village in the Ratlou Local Municipality, who identified themselves as the Bua Morafe Community Forum.
The leaders were given the platform to register their frustration over what they said were their longstanding service delivery issues that have never been satisfactorily addressed since 2017.
“The community of Madibogo Pan was in protests ... there were service delivery issues in 2018. There were disruptions and burning of schools, other community facilities and all other events in the province of the North West which led to the collapse of the previous or the fifth administration. It led to the intervention that is currently in the North West [after] the national government invoked Section 100 because of that situation, including in Madibogo Pan,” Dodovu said.
He explained that they met the community leaders who came in the middle of a meeting during the committee’s oversight visit to the province and asked for their intervention.
“That is why we are here today ... if it was not because of that incident, this meeting was not going to happen, and deliberately, as the committee, we identified this issue of Madibogo Pan as a microcosm of a bigger problem pertaining to how issues of the community are responded to. It gives us a clear sense about what is happening, whether communication between the people and government is effective or not; whether the government is responsive to the needs of the people or not; whether issues raised by communities are addressed and attended to with the necessary pace, speed and tempo that is desirable,” Dodovu said.
“For me this is quite important in that we are engaging with the issues and there is a mismatch. There are differences between what the government is saying and what the community are saying. For me that is quite problematic because there must be good interaction, facilitation of issues, and the community needs to know what is happening and what the government is doing to attend to their issues. This is a typical case showing that there is a need to respond in a way that inspires confidence ... Madibogo Pan is one area where we make an example of how we must foster that relationship between the government and community.”
Dodovu explained that the section 100 intervention was because of community protests and “if we fail to act decisively, there is a likelihood that this problem will arise, and we don’t want that ... we want a province that has no disruption but is stable in a sense that it is capable of fulfilling its executive obligation”.
“At the end of the day, we must enforce accountability, there must be consequence management for those who are not doing what they are supposed to do. There must be constant interaction with our communities especially on issues they would have raised,” he said.
While Mokgoro did not say exactly which words by Dodovu may have translated to incitement for him, he clearly was not happy after the comments made by the committee chairperson.
The premier was also not happy that the committee had been referring to a memorandum of complaints by the community, which the local government was not aware of and it was in the same breath that Mokgoro brought up the issue of incitement.
“I think, Honourable Chair, because of what underpins the conclusions that you are drawing [and] what underpins the message that you are conveying to the community, we – as the provincial government, your community and the rest of government – we need to come back to this issue and discuss very thoroughly your approach to the question of oversight which really leaves much to be desired.”
Mokgoro had earlier, in his opening remarks, expressed appreciation of the exercise they were embarking on with the committee and urged for some commitment from the government on addressing community issues.
“Our understanding is that the essence of this meeting is about accountability and giving feedback. When people cry out to us about service delivery matters, about water, about housing, roads and so on, they are feeling the pain ... and we should not wait until our order of priorities allows us to respond and only respond at that moment. We should respond in a way that the convenience of the citizen is the one that is prioritised,” he said.
“This indeed, is a wonderful opportunity for us to demonstrate whether or not we care [and] if we do succeed in demonstrating that we care, let’s do even better next time. If there are any gaps, let us immediately after this meeting self-correct, engage with these communities and say to them, in the meeting convened by the ad hoc committee, we responded in the following areas, but we acknowledge that there are gaps in other areas, and we are here to close those gaps.
“If we do that, we will effectively narrow the trust deficit that admittedly exists between communities and ourselves.”
It appears that, at the time, Mokgoro was not aware that the community leaders were part of the meeting. He later raised issues with it.
“You invite us to this meeting, and you don’t tell us there will be some sector of the community leadership. I think, in all fairness, and in the interest of transparency, we must verify the people that you brought here in terms of whose leaders they are and whether the community of Madibogo Pan will recognise them as their leaders,” the premier said.
“In all decency, I think you should have told us that you are actually bringing members of the community for no reason, [but] just in the interest of transparency.”
In response to Mokgoro’s statement, committee member Maurencia Gillion said she was “disturbed that this is not the first time that serious allegations by leadership in the North West while we were busy with Section 100 work”.
She said it was “unfortunate” that Dodovu was originally from the North West province. “If he was from another province, I doubt if such outrage would [still] come forward against him. Whatever we are doing in the North West, we are doing it as a committee [made up] of all political parties,” Gillion said.
There has previously been an attempt to have Dodovu, who has previously served as MEC and deputy provincial chairperson of the ANC, removed as the committee chair by former premier Supra Mahumapelo, who accused him of having campaigned for his removal as premier in 2018 during the #SupraMustFall protests, adding that he would not be an objective participant (reasonable appreciation of bias) in assessing the section 100 assessment in the North West.
In his response, Dodovu explained to Mokgoro his “multiparty” committee’s objectives and where it all started with the community of Madibogo Pan but advised the premier to reduce his concerns to writing so that they could receive proper attention and be addressed accordingly. He did not allow any more members after Gillion to speak on issues raised by Mokgoro.
Meanwhile, issues raised on behalf of the Madibogo Pan community by the committee were responded to with progress reports on some projects, such as road construction and how funds were spent on a school renovation project, but there was commitment by government departments to further engage with the community, as well as further investigate other allegations raised.