Mayor Solly Msimanga in the council where he said Gauteng Premier David Makhura should not confuse running the metro with a spaza shop. Picture: Thobile Mathonsi/African News Agency/ANA
Pretoria - ANC councillors in Tshwane on Thursday said they felt disrespected by Mayor Solly Msimanga, who said Premier David Makhura had confused running a metro with a spaza shop.

Msimanga was responding to remarks made by Makhura - also ANC provincial chairperson - during his visit to Hammanskraal on Wednesday. The premier had told residents he was going to drag Msimanga to Hammanskraal kicking and screaming in order for him to deal with water crises there.

Makhura visited the community after residents of Hammanskraal complained that the water was dirty and unsafe for consumption. He said it appeared Msimanga did not take Hammanskraal people seriously.

However, during the monthly council sitting on Thursday, Msimanga did not take kindly to the premier’s remarks and described them as “unfortunate” coming from one political leader to another.

Msimanga said: “To hear the premier going there and saying the mayor will be dragged there kicking and screaming was very unfortunate; I had said to the premier that you are sending an e-mail at 3pm inviting me to a meeting that takes place tomorrow (this) morning.

“We are running a city; we are not running a spaza shop. I should not have to drop everything that I am doing to go to attend a meeting.”

Msimanga said Makhura failed to realise that the City was already attending to the matter, and that he was in possession of a report that could have enlightened Makhura should he have consulted the City.

He said the City was in agreement with a recent pronouncement by the South African Human Rights Commission that there were no traces of cholera in Hammanskraal, despite rumours to that effect.

“We went to the hospitals and clinics there. Not even a single file was ever opened of any case of cholera. That is something that is there in black and white. We are doing everything we can possibly do and we will continue doing everything we possibly can.”

Msimanga’s “spaza shop” remarks did not go down well with ANC councillors, particularly caucus spokesperson Lesego Makhubela and regional deputy chairperson Aaron Maluleke.

Makhubela said Msimanga’s remarks meant that the mayor could not drop whatever he was doing to rush to Hammanskraal and deal with “a national disaster”.

Maluleke stood up and said: “Mayor, you did not go to the people of Hammanskraal and opted to have a meeting in town, therefore you can’t insult the premier when he acts on the plight of the people.

“Don’t insult him; say you opted not to go. Makhura parked everything to go and respond to a people’s challenge. Use correct words; it is incorrect and insensitive for you to say that.”

Msimanga responded that a government leader should first establish the facts of whether or not there was an emergency, but Makhura had not done that. “Already we could have given him a report to say all the interventions that needed to be done in Hammanskraal are already being done. We called leaders into the meeting and even went as far as getting the royal house to go to look at the Rooiwal and Temba (wastewater treatment plants) and other projects being rolled out.”

He said the City was in possession of a report that was going to be sent to Makhura.

Fears of cholera began in June after some people claimed they were falling ill. The City issued a warning statement on June 27, asking people not to drink the water until City lab technicians had done tests.

The City the next day said no traces of cholera had been found.

Pretoria News