A spokesperson for the group, Mongezi Malawane, said they demanded that 16 ANC councillors who were dismissed be reinstated. A group of community members from Maluti-A-Phofung in the eastern Free State spent most of Monday protesting outside ANC headquarters in Johannesburg, demanding that 16 ANC councillors who were expelled from the party be reinstated. The group vowed to sleep in front of Luthuli House until their demands were responded to.
Their protest was a follow-up to a promise made by President Cyril Ramaphosa on 6 May during an ANC election campaign to send the Special Investigating Unit to probe corruption at Maluti-A-Phofung Municipality, which is based in the former Qwa-Qwa homeland.
The municipality was placed under administration following years of widespread corruption and maladministration. The municipality owed R2.2 billion to Eskom when it was put under administration after it failed to pay its bills, and presently the entire area is without power.
Earlier this year the sheriff attached municipal assets to the value of R2.8 billion to cover the debt owed to Eskom. The municipality comprises the towns of Phuthaditjhaba‚ Harrismith and Kestell as well as the former Qwa-Qwa homeland area.
The looting that occurred under former mayor Vusi Tshabalala saw workers down tools, demanding to be paid their salaries after they had worked unpaid for months, and after contracts of hired workers had been abruptly terminated.
The community assisted with protests demanding service delivery and for Tshabalala to step down, accusing him of corruption and poor service delivery.
The grouping that held the placard-demonstration outside Luthuli House comprised local community leaders, individual activists in the ANC, representatives of the local chamber of commerce and the Maluti-A-Phofung Council of Churches.
A spokesperson for the group, Mongezi Malawane, said they demanded that the 16 ANC councillors be reinstated. They were expelled from the ANC after they were accused of breaching the ANC constitution by voting with the opposition to elect Gilbert Mokotso as the new mayor during a council meeting in June 2018.
But Malawane denied that they co-operated with the opposition parties that included the DA, EFF, Independent African Congress and the Dikwakwentla Party.
“As the community we feel that the president was misleading us, he did not fulfil his promise. Now those councillors are still at home waiting for him to investigate the graft at Maluti-A-Phofung. It’s now seven months since they were expelled and they are not working.”
The councillors were removed after they voted out Tshabalala, a friend of ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule, and replaced him with Gilbert Mokotso on 10 June last year. But Tshabalala’s supporting councillors within the ANC caucus refused to vote for Mokotso, alleging that he was supported by opposition parties.
The expelled councillors took their matter to court, but the Bloemfontein High Court in February dismissed their case with costs.
“When you see Tshabalala you see Ace Magashule. They looted Maluti-A-Phofung. We like this guy, Gilbert Mokotso, he is a man of principle. These corrupt ANC councillors know exactly that they will never be able to commit crime under Mokotso, that’s why they want him out,” Malawane said.
He said President Ramaphosa promised to come but “he is nowhere to be found”. We came here because we want the ANC to listen to us,” Malawane said.
Although the municipality was placed under administration, many residents did not trust the administrators because it was installed by the ANC-led Free State provincial government. They demanded that the administrator must go.
In what was seen as a protest against their own members who installed Mokotso, Tshabalala supporters in the council at the weekend voted for the acting mayor position to go to Moeketsi Lebesa, a leader of the Dikwankwetla party.
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Source: The Citizen