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Pretoria - The two most senior ANC leaders in the Tshwane region squared off in court on Thursday over a report on allegations of the dubious awarding of a municipal tender.
ANC deputy chairman for the Tshwane region, Mapiti Matsena, who is also a strategic executive director in the office of the Speaker, on Thursday failed in his bid to stop Tshwane mayor and ANC regional chairman Kgosientso Ramokgopa from tabling a report authorising his suspension over the tender allegations.
The report and the investigation into Matsena have for some time raised questions about the relationship between the two Tshwane ANC leaders, which is believed to have been on and off for this year.
Matsena’s lawyers claimed on Thursday that the handling of allegations against him were indicative of bigger political issues at play. The court rejected Matsena’s application, ruling that he was not entitled to have the report or comment on it before the council could debate and discuss it as he had claimed in his application.
However, the municipality was also ordered to give Matsena access to the report after having failed to do so since September.
Matsena’s lawyers said he was actually victorious as the court acknowledged that he was entitled to be given the report before any disciplinary action could be taken against him by the municipality, a process, they said, that had been flouted.
His lawyer, Zondeka Mokondo, said the disciplinary issues concerning Matsena and the subsequent investigation could be related to his activities in the regional leadership of the ANC.
“The municipality is a political structure, you cannot separate the two. As a senior executive in the municipality, these issues have affected Matsena.
“There has been a stigma attached to him for the fact that he’s being investigated and there’s a report pending.
“They charged him before they had anything, suspended him and then went back on the suspension.”
This strongly raises the possibility that these things emanate from elsewhere, Mokondo said.
Matsena was suspended with the strategic executive director for housing, Mapule Phora, and the strategic executive director for services infrastructure Lefadi Makibinyane.
Ramokgopa told the council on Thursday that they believed the three officials have cases to answer.
“I am not saying that the officials are guilty. What I am saying is that we believe that there is a case to be answered,” he said.
Ramokgopa said the investigation against Matsena related to the promotion of ward committee elections early this year. Matsena was put on special leave from January 27 to April 1.
The municipality stated at the time that a forensic investigation had suggested that certain supply chain management processes “might have been compromised in the appointment of a service provider to market the ward committee elections”.
An estimated R10 million was used by the municipality as part of its plans to drum up support for the ward committee system. But questions were raised about how the tender was eventually awarded.
“We believe that the funds allocated were too high… and we believe that we did not get value for our money,” Ramokgopa said.
The decision to suspend Makibinyane was taken after he had failed to submit reports as instructed by the council, he said.
Ramokgopa said the council asked Makibinyane to submit a report on the Rooiwal and Pretoria West power stations. “It’s been five months since the council asked for the report. It is not forthcoming.”
He added that the municipality is investing in the power stations without any returns.
Phora was suspended in connection with an estimated R70 million which has been unaccounted for from the city’s housing division, Ramokgopa said.