'By-elections are just a pipe dream. We will be remaining as councillors at Sol Plaatje municipality.'
THE NINE ANC councillors at Sol Plaatje Municipality who were expelled for defying the party have insisted that they “will not be going anywhere”, despite the ANC announcing that it would contest upcoming by-elections that will be held due to the vacancies that were created by their removal.
The ANC Provincial Executive Committee (PEC) has also called for council to elect a new Sol Plaatje executive mayor. ANC deputy provincial secretary Maruping Lekwene said yesterday that the current mayor, Pula Thabane, who is one of the expelled councillors, would be recalled.
“These individuals (the expelled councillors) can therefore no longer represent the ANC in any capacity,” said Lekwene.
The councillors indicated that the ANC secretary-general had acknowledged receipt of their application on November 16 to review the decision of the ANC Regional Executive Committee (REC) to expel them.
The REC found the nine members guilty of colluding with opposition parties when former Sol Plaatje executive mayor Mangaliso Matika was voted out of office.
They were also found guilty of causing division in the party, participating in factional activities, voting contrary to the policies of the ANC and bringing the party into disrepute.
They were also charged with engaging in “immoral conduct by conniving with the opposition” in a court matter to act against their own member (Matika).
The expelled councillors stated that the matter was escalated to Luthuli House after the PEC had ignored their application to appeal the guilty finding.
“By-elections are just a pipe dream. We will be remaining as councillors at Sol Plaatje municipality,” they said.
Lekwene said that they had engaged with the expelled councillors on “countless occasions”, together with National Executive Committee (NEC) deployees.
“They have proven to be incorrigible and are getting their mandate from some sections of the opposition. They are not prepared to subject themselves to the discipline of the organisation that has deployed them,” said Lekwene yesterday.
“We do not rush to punish and will only invoke discipline as a last resort. Members are expected to abide by the laws. The disciplinary process was concluded in October. They were given an opportunity to repent.”
Lekwene insisted that the PEC had not received any appeals from the affected councillors within the 21-day deadline that ended on November 16.
“We only received a review submission but that does not count as an appeal. They are supposed to appeal to the provincial disciplinary committee and not to the National Executive Committee at Luthuli House.”
Lekwene added that they were “combat ready” for the upcoming by-elections that would be held in or around February 2019.
“The by-elections will be used as an acid test for the national general elections next year. We will go back to renew, mobilise and lobby the community. We are ready to contest. The internal squabbles at Sol Plaatje Municipality has impeded service delivery.”
The Independent Electoral Council received a notice of intention from the municipality on Monday afternoon to declare vacancies for two proportional and seven ward councillors in the Sol Plaatje municipal district.
Provincial electoral officer Bonolo Modise said yesterday that the vacancies would have to be filled within the next 90 days, where by-elections would be held in the seven affected wards.
“The by-elections should not affect the national general elections next year, where a date has not been announced yet. However, to avoid confusion it would not be preferable to hold a by-election and national general election on the same day,” said Modise.
DA chief whip Christopher Phiri pointed out that council would remain in limbo until the expelled councillors were replaced.
“The ANC cannot form a quorum without the opposition if it is minus nine of its councillors. A mayor can only be removed by council unless a motion of no confidence against him succeeds or if he resigns. By all accounts Thabane is still the mayor,” said Phiri.
He was doubtful whether the council meeting that is scheduled to take place on November 28, to adopt the findings of the Section 106 investigation at Sol Plaatje Municipality, would take place.
Meanwhile, ANC members who held an inter-branch meeting on Monday said that disgruntled party members and voters would stage a shutdown, starting in the Frances Baard region, if their grievances were not resolved by November 28. “We will also lobby other regions to join in.”
They called for the ANC regional and provincial executive committees to be disbanded for failing to manage municipalities in the Province and to take action against officials implicated in the Section 106 investigation report.
They also claimed that ANC councillors were threatened that criminal charges would be laid against them if they attended council meetings.
“The branches have further decided to go to Luthuli House to raise our issues. If ANC president Cyril Ramaphosa does not give us a hearing, we will stage a five-day sit-in at Luthuli House. We don’t want to be addressed by any of the structures in the Province.
“Branches and voters of the ANC have been silent for too long.
“If they continue with the provincial list conference we will dispute it as branches in good standing because representatives from certain branches are being deliberately excluded.”
DA provincial leader Andrew Louw believes that the removal of the nine ANC councillors, including the mayor who was elected as the “people’s choice”, would fuel the factional battles within the ANC, which in turn are affecting service delivery.
“If the expelled councillors pursue legal action, municipal business will continue to stagnate until the matter is settled in court. Even if there is no court action, the by-elections will further divert attention away from matters of public importance.”