Pretoria - Suspended ANC councillor Solomon Phiri left the Sammy Marks council chamber with his tail between his legs this week after being told he was not welcome at this month’s sitting.
Phiri cut a lone figure as the escalator took him down to the lower level of the building.
Accompanied by two men, one dressed in ANC colours, he paused briefly at the foot of the escalator, walked into a cellphone shop, emerged and then disappeared towards Madiba Street.
“I am not wanted here and am going back home to Bronkhorstspruit,” he said.
“Why did they invite me here if they did not want me?”
Phiri represented Bronkhorstspruit and surrounding communities since the local government election in 2011, but has been on suspension on full pay for almost two years.
He was accused of allegedly disrupting ward committee elections in Zithobeni and being absent from council activities without leave.
Ward committees in Tshwane have since been declared unconstitutional by the North Gauteng High Court, a decision the city is challenging.
Phiri has denied the charges and argued the suspension was because he stood up to mayor Kgosientso Ramokgopa when he addressed councillors in the region at the time.
The city has recommended that Phiri be fired.
Meanwhile, the decision of MEC for Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs Jacob Mamabolo on the matter is still pending.
Phiri said he had not been receiving notifications to attend council sittings for the past 19 months.
However, this week he received a text message from the office of the speaker inviting him to the July ordinary council sitting, which took place this week.
“I consulted with my legal representatives and they indicated I should honour the invitation and attend the meeting,” he said.
Minutes into the meeting, a caucus was announced by speaker Morakane Mosupyoe-Letsholo, during which Phiri joined his comrades as he had done in the past.
He told Pretoria News that during the caucus meeting, chief whip Jabu Mabona and Ramokgopa excused themselves for a brief discussion about his presence.
Phiri said upon their return, they informed him he should not attend the meeting and that the invitation he had received by SMS was due to a communication error.
Phiri claimed the speaker apologised for the error, but Ramokgopa stated there was no need for apologising and that he should leave the meeting. “The anger and look on his face tells the story of a man who hates me.
“The reasons for my suspension are personal.
“He hates me very much and cannot wait for me to be removed for good. I wonder to what lengths he will go to show his anger.
“Another member of the caucus tried to have a say on the matter but was not given a chance to talk at all.”
Mosupyoe-Letsholo and Ramokgopa were not available for comment, but mayoral spokesman Blessing Manale said Phiri remained suspended and thus could not attend council and caucus activities.
Manale said the city was awaiting Mamabolo’s decision on Phiri’s future.
Pretoria News Weekend