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Johannesburg - A rowdy clash this week involving the mayor and municipal manager played out at Limpopo’s Mogalakwena municipality, where the ANC-controlled council has been reduced to a political circus.
On Wednesday, municipal manager Willie Kekana opened a criminal case against his boss, mayor Tlhalefi Mashamaite, at the Mokopane police station.
Municipal spokesman Malesela Selokela said Kekana opened a case of burglary after his laptop and his secretary’s desktop were found inside the mayor’s office that morning.
Selokela said the mayor entered Kekana’s office without his knowledge on Tuesday night and changed the locks to prevent the manager from entering his office.
“According to the security guards who were on duty that night, they saw the mayor and a locksmith opening the municipal manager’s office and later changing the locks,” said Selokela. He said Kekana, who this week returned from a two-month suspension, could not enter his office as a result.
“After the laptop and the desktop were found at the mayor’s office, a case of burglary was opened,” said Selokela. On Tuesday, Kekana was barred from entering council premises by ANC-aligned Umkhonto we Sizwe Military Veterans’ Association (MKMVA) members, allegedly at the behest of Mashamaite, who objected to the lifting of his suspension.
Five residents who support Kekana were arrested and later released on warning after they clashed with MKMVA members at the council’s entrance.
Kekana and Mashamaite could not be reached for comment, but council Speaker Melba Mabusela confirmed Kekana’s reinstatement. Mabusela, an ANC member, said the majority of councillors had opposed Kekana’s suspension in July.
“Nineteen ANC councillors and 11 opposition (party) councillors objected to his suspension,” said Mabusela.
She said the mayor and other councillors, who had boycotted last Friday’s special council seating, objected to Kekana’s reinstatement.
Cope councillor Pat Motlohoneng said Kekana’s suspension in July had resulted in the looting of public funds.
“When the municipal manager was suspended two months ago, there was R1.7 million in the mayoral vote (the budget allocated to the mayor’s office), but today there is only R119,” he said. “After the suspension, the mayor launched a mayoral outreach programme, which we have never agreed with as councillors,” added Motlohoneng.
Within two months of Kekana’s suspension, the council had two acting municipal managers. Motlohoneng alleged that Mashamaite appointed the second acting municipal manager without council resolution. On Thursday, Lulamile Jack, provincial deputy chairman of the Limpopo MKMVA, confirmed that his members had gone to “protect” Mashamaite.