051110. Polokwane in Limpopo Province. Limpopo Premier Cassel Mathale arrives for The Limpopo Provincial Government Budget Lekgotla that took place on 04 and 05 November 2010. Picture: Dumisani Sibeko

Limpopo - Limpopo’s opposition parties have ganged up against the ANC in defence of the beleaguered Premier Cassel Mathale.

Both Cope and the DA raised their unhappiness at the ANC’s decision to strip Mathale of his administrative powers, barring him from giving out tenders.

The ANC provincial task team (PTT) has also apparently imposed a moratorium on the filling of vacancies in the Limpopo government. The latest moratorium is reminiscent of exactly what Mathale did when he unseated his predecessor, Sello Moloto, as ANC provincial chairman five years ago.

Immediately after its election at the Thohoyandou conference in 2008, Mathale’s party leadership had instructed Moloto, who was still premier at the time, to stop filling strategic government positions. On Wednesday, the PTT, chaired by Falaza Mdaka, ordered Mathale and his cabinet to compile reports about recent tenders and appointments.

However, PTT spokesman Sello Lediga denies there is a moratorium.

“The only thing we asked was the reports about appointments made in the past so that we can detect if there is corruption,” Lediga said following Wednesday’s meeting with Mathale and his cabinet. Mathale’s office confirmed the meeting but declined to comment.

On Tuesday, the PTT told mayors that tenders must first be approved at the party’s provincial headquarters, according to sources who were present in the briefing. This has left opposition parties livid, with concerns being raised that the ANC would contravene Treasury regulations.

Cope MPL Johann Abrie called on President Jacob Zuma “to rein in his loyalists who are now in political power”.

Zuma last month appointed Mdaka’s task team after the ANC’s national executive committee disbanded the provincial executive committee led by Mathale. This rendered Mathale a lame-duck premier. The ANC denies it has usurped Mathale’s administration duties but maintains that, as the ruling party, it has an obligation to monitor governance.

Abrie has highlighted that Mathale remains premier despite having lost his political grip. “The president, as per his oath, is bestowed with a responsibility to uphold the constitution of the Republic, and by doing so, remind his political appointees of (its) provisions which they… transgress,” said Abrie.

“This move is a clear indication that the people of Limpopo are about to see more of the same shenanigans,” he said.

DA MPL Desiree van der Walt said she would urge the national Treasury to remind the PTT that it has no mandate to pronounce on how tenders are awarded. She said PTT members would hand tenders to business people sympathetic to their faction.

“While Premier Mathale should be removed from office for the collapse of delivery in Limpopo… he cannot be replaced by more of the same,” said Van der Walt.

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The Star