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Sol plunged into anarchy

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Mabilo was later whisked out of the chambers, shortly before the meeting was adjourned indefinitely

CANDIDATE: Patrick Mabilo watched as Fridays council meeting erupted in chaos. RIGHT: The mayoral gown and chain were hurriedly removed by security as clashes broke out between councillors. Picture: Danie van der Lith

THE SOL Plaatje Municipality is still without a mayor after the special council meeting that was convened to elect a new mayor was plunged into anarchy.

The mayoral gown and chain were hurriedly carried out of Friday’s meeting by security while water bottles, tins of energy drinks and pieces of broken plastic were hurled at opposition councillors.

The ANC held a caucus after Patrick Mabilo and Pula Thabane were both nominated by ANC councillors to stand for the mayoral position, as they are both ANC councillors.

The gallery and opposition clapped and cheered when Thabane’s name was announced while ANC members, who refused to leave after the meeting was adjourned, insisted that Mabilo should be the mayor.

The acting Speaker, Ben Springbok, tried unsuccessfully to call raucous members of the public to order.

Mabilo was later whisked out of the chambers, shortly before the meeting was adjourned indefinitely.

Chief of staff at the Office of the Speaker at the Northern Cape Legislature, Epang Matolweni, said that Mabilo had resigned as a Member of the Provincial Legislature (MPL) on September 27.

As an ordinary councillor, Mabilo will earn considerably less than an MPL and will be entitled to less benefits and allowances.

Former Sol Plaatje mayor, Mangaliso Matika, will be sworn in as an MPL this week.

The DA, Cope and the EFF intend to jointly lay criminal charges against the acting Speaker, Springbok, for his supposed unwillingness and failure to protect opposition councillors from danger.

DA provincial leader, Andrew Louw, said that nothing was done to prevent ANC councillors or supporters in the public gallery from disrupting proceedings or from threatening to commit violence against opposition councillors.

“It is worrying that security guards of the municipality were just standing idly by and unwilling to act against those who were openly committing criminal acts. It is a sign of the collapse of leadership in the municipality, where staff are too afraid to even do their jobs, as they fear political consequences.”

Louw blamed the MEC for Co-operative Governance, Human Settlement and Traditional Affairs, Bentley Vass, for “deliberately delaying” the finalisation of the Section 106 investigation at Sol Plaatje Municipality.

Cope councillor Rosie Ludick questioned Mabilo’s track record, where council had instituted disciplinary action against him in October 2007 while he was serving as executive director of community and social development.

“Mabilo was found guilty on 11 of the 13 charges and found not guilty on two charges due to insufficient evidence. He was dismissed in December 2007. The same ANC that got rid of him has brought him back to serve as an executive mayor,” said Ludick.

She stated that Cope would not have supported either the nomination of Mabilo or Thabane as it would not be in the best interest of the community.

“We would not be able to trust Mabilo with the resources of the municipality. If Thabane won the vote, we would have to return to council chambers after three months to elect another mayor. We must be leaders and stop playing with the emotions of the people, stop playing with basic service delivery, and stop playing to the gallery to win popularity.”

Ludick added that ratepayers needed stability and an executive mayor that could restore the confidence of the people.

Freedom Front Plus provincial leader, Wynand Boshoff, stated that infighting within the ranks of the ANC was crippling the city.

“We have three unfilled vacancies for the mayor, chief financial officer and municipal manager. This is while the municipality is languishing in a financial crisis.”

He indicated that opposition members were hit with sharp objects and cans and had to be escorted out of the building by the police.

“Opposition councillors refused to leave the meeting, where they were intimidated and told to ‘voetsek and f*** off’ from the gallery, whereupon the Speaker eventually called in security.”

Chairperson of the Northern Cape Civics Organisation, Ross Henderson, believed that council should be dissolved or placed under administration, as it was malfunctioning and riddled with infighting and political interference.