The ANC in Limpopo has finally fired controversial Mogalakwena Municipality mayor Tlhalefi Mashamaite who was accused of, among others, acquiring up to 27 personal bodyguards using the municipality’s name.
This was at the height of his battle with municipal manager Willie Kekana and a faction of councillors from his own party.
Before this week’s resolution, the governing party seemed to have been hell-bent on keeping Mashamaite as mayor despite a damning forensic audit report by KPMG which recommended that criminal charges be laid against him for gross financial mismanagement.
With the local government elections drawing closer, the ANC seems to have given into the growing pressure from within the party, opposition parties and the community to get rid of Mashamaite.
The party is believed to have been forced to measure its options between keeping one man and risk losing a sea of potential votes or removing him and win back voters.
The party has for a long time been avoiding any action against Mashamaite amid allegations that, apart from his army of bodyguards costing about R1 million, the KPMG forensic report implicated him in further gross financial mismanagement.
Among others the report revealed that while Kekana was placed on special leave, Mashamaite went on a questionable spending spree ordering 12 000 T-shirts in four separate orders – at a cost of R838 000 – without following proper procedures.
The T-shirts were to be handed out at the municipality’s “outreach gatherings” hosted by the mayor, and were ordered despite an instruction by Treasury that public money not be spent on non-essentials – including T-shirts.
Despite these revelations, the ANC took little action and in fact went on to discipline 22 of its councillors who supported a council resolution for a forensic audit.
Mashamaite was later removed as mayor in another council decision supported by the 22 ANC councillors. The 22 were fired by the ANC after they were found guilty of bringing the party into disrepute after voting with opposition parties for Mashamaite’s removal.
Mashamaite was reinstated as mayor while new councillors replaced the 22 expelled by the ANC. This, however, did little to bring stability to Mogalakwena which continued to be in the news with Mashamaite accused of “looting” and tapping into municipal coffers in the first week of returning as mayor.
The ANC – following its provincial executive committee meeting on Monday – announced a resolution to recall Mashamaite and Blouberg Local municipality mayor Seriti Sekgoloane. The party said this was part of its “continued efforts to strengthen municipal capacity for improved service delivery”.
“These comrades will remain as councillors in the respective municipalities. The process to appoint new mayors for these municipalities will be concluded within the next two weeks through the relevant structures,” party provincial secretary Nocks Seabi said.
Meanwhile, the Mogalakwena Residents Association has welcomed Mashamaite’s removal as “long overdue” but called for him to “pay back our money before he vacates office”.