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Mayor’s seat vacant

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"Kimberley does not want another puppet at the helm with a sketchy track record"

Picture: Supplied

THE MAYOR’S seat will be vacant until the next council meeting that is scheduled to take place on October 3, apparently due to infighting over the mayoral candidate.

Sol Plaatje executive mayor Mangaliso Matika’s resignation only comes into effect today, although he not been seen in his office for the past month.

All his photographs will have to be taken down from the council walls today and Matika will have to hand over all assets of the municipality including the keys to the Audi Q7, his laptop and cellphone.

Termination letters have been served on staff members occupying his political office.

Security was called to escort members of the media out of the municipality building yesterday, after requesting to take a photograph of the mayor’s office, and they were accused of “publishing lies”.

Instructions were given that a written request had to be made to the mayor and head of security for permission.

While SMS messages were circulated calling for a special council meeting to be convened today to elect a new mayor, no agenda was attached and no formal notice was given.

Notices were later issued advising that the meeting would be postponed until October 3, where the appointment of the new mayor and new Speaker and the swearing-in ceremony of the new councillor will take place.

Some councillors pointed out that a new mayor could not be appointed on the same day that the current mayor resigned.

Other sources indicated that the swearing-in ceremony had to be delayed as Patrick Mabilo, who was introduced as the new mayor by the ANC Provincial Executive Committee, was not the popular choice and that the ANC regional structures have proposed other names for consideration.

Mabilo is also out of office for the remainder of the week.

Opposition parties will object to Mabilo being elected as the new mayor and are in consultation as to who they will nominate instead.

Mabilo was the subject of a Hawks investigation in 2014 relating to credit card fraud. He was also charged for animal abuse in 2014 while he was MEC for the Department of Transport, Safety and Liaison, when his two dogs were found to be severely malnourished and infested with ticks.

ANC councillors have been advised to vote Mabilo in as the new mayor, while a few ANC members stated that many councillors still had loyalty towards Matika and would therefore not support Mabilo.

The Independent Electoral Council (IEC) confirmed that the acting municipal manager had declared a vacancy for a councillor and that the ANC had yesterday submitted the name of Mabilo as the replacement councillor.

DA councillor Reinette Liebenberg stated that they would not be supporting Mabilo for mayor.

“We will nominate another ANC candidate because we are not chasing positions. It would also be counter productive to appoint an opposition councillor as mayor. While all these delays are continuing to drag on, the issues of finances and the shortfall in the budget are not being addressed and council is failing to generate enough revenue,” said Liebenberg.

She pointed out that council would be incurring wasteful expenditure should the former Speaker, Elizabeth Johnson, win her labour dispute, challenging her removal.

“Council will have to pay the salary of the new Speaker, the legal costs and compensation to Johnson if the Labour Court rules in her favour.”

EFF provincial spokesperson Obakeng Lechuti added that the mayor could not be be inaugurated by the ANC without following any council resolution.

“We believe that he will be an instrument of the ANC where corruption, maladministration and unbearable service delivery will continue. We will not endorse Mabilo to stand as mayor.”

Cope national chairperson Pakes Dikgetsi said that they were in discussion with other opposition parties to support an alternative mayoral candidate.

“We will not approve of any ANC candidate to be mayor as ratepayers should be given the power to elect their mayor of choice. The instability created by imposing mayors has resulted in the mess that we find ourselves in today. Kimberley does not want another puppet at the helm with a sketchy track record.”

Dikgetsi stated that had today’s council meeting sat, the party would have raised concerns over the validity and legality of the meeting.

He indicated that it would be premature to elect a new Speaker, as the labour dispute involving the former Speaker, Johnson, has not been finalised yet.

“The matter has legal and financial implications.”

Spokesperson for the Department of Co-operative Governance, Human Settlements and Traditional Affairs, Xhanti Teki, said the Section 106 investigation at Sol Plaatje Municipality was expected to be released at the end of the month.