By Anél Powell

City manager Wallace Mgoqi has stepped down as Cape Town's municipal electoral officer at the request of provincial election chief Courtney Sampson following his pro-ANC, anti-DA opinion piece, carried in Friday's Cape Times.

Sampson, provincial officer for the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC), said he had contacted Mgoqi on Friday after reading the article.

His action against Mgoqi came to light on Tuesday after the DA's mayoral candidate, Helen Zille, told the Cape Times she was to present a letter to Sampson at his Bellville office asking that Mgoqi be removed as municipal electoral officer because of the article.

In the letter she said: "Not only is Mgoqi the city manager of Cape Town - and in that position is supposed to be a civil servant - but due to his presumed neutral position he is given the task of being the IEC's municipal electoral officer, whereby he serves all political parties."

At the Bellville office, the Cape Times learnt that Sampson had taken action.

After meeting Sampson, Zille said: "Sampson has done the right thing. He has restored our confidence in the IEC and we believe this was a good and bold step.

"We want (Mgoqi) replaced (as municipal electoral officer) with someone who is fair and non-aligned."

It was "unacceptable" for the city's municipal electoral officer to pen "an obviously biased political assault on the DA in favour of the ANC".

In his opinion piece, Mgoqi responded to a Cape Times news report that had appeared two days earlier and been headlined "Zille hits out at Mgoqi for pocketing performance bonus while city is ailing".

Defending his R186 011 bonus, Mgoqi compared the track records of the DA and the ANC in the three years each had run the city, concluding "the DA performed terribly vis-a-vis the ANC over the same period".

"The DA appointed a 10-member top management team, all white males and one coloured male - not a single woman," he wrote.

"The DA was the first to purge all those it perceived to be ANC-aligned top managers. Who can believe DA mayoral candidate Helen Zille when she says they will not do it again?"

Sampson said Mgoqi had expressed regret at having written the article in his capacity as city manager.

He said he believed Mgoqi realised he had compromised his position as municipal electoral officer by lashing out publicly on behalf of the ANC.

"He feels he has let himself down. He let himself get pushed into a corner and he responded."

Although city spokesperson Sputnik Ratau said late on Tuesday afternoon that Mgoqi was "still consulting" executive mayor Nomaindia Mfeketo about the matter, Sampson said "it was just a matter of finalising things now" and Mgoqi had agreed to step down.

Sampson said it was customary for a city manager to serve as the municipal electoral officer during an election.

He said Brent Gerber, director of special projects and deputy municipal electoral officer, would be the likely replacement.