Mayor Solly Msimanga is being targeted through city boss Moeketsi Mosola’s sleight of hand, says the writer. Picture: Bongani Shilubane/African News Agency (ANA)
AS the calls grew louder for the removal of City of Tshwane manager Dr Moeketsi Mosola in the wake of a multibillion-rand tender scandal, he deftly managed to garner political support and guns were suddenly trained at his political boss, executive mayor Solly Msimanga.

The provincial ANC was first to call for an investigation into the awarding of a reported R12billion tender to GladAfrica to manage the capital projects of the City. The regional structure of the party took over the baton from its provincial counterparts calling for Mosola’s head.

At that point the DA and ANC seemed to be reading from the same script in calling for an investigation into the role Mosola played in awarding the contract.

The message was clear: the GladAfrica tender had a stench of alleged corruption. The provincial Cogta Department via MEC Uhuru Moiloa was to follow suit in calling for a probe.

Then, last Thursday, just before council sat to consider Msimanga’s request to serve Mosola with a notice of intention to suspend him pending a probe into alleged tender irregularities, the ANC caucus broke into song. Suddenly it was not Mosola they were interested in, their actual target was Msimanga.

The about-turn by the ANC caught everyone by surprise. However, sanity prevailed and both the ANC and DA resolved to serve Mosola with a notice of intention to suspend him.

But Mosola wasn’t going to go without a fight. He was hellbent on preventing Council resolving to investigate his role on GladAfrica.

In behaviour typical of suicide bombers, on the eve of Council, he asked one of his two deputies, Laurette Tredoux - who had just started her three-week sick leave - to act on his behalf. Mosola told Tredoux to invite the City’s Group Head for Legal Services, Marna Kock, to sit alongside her in Council.

Knowing how sensitive the ANC, and particularly the EFF, are on “whites”, he played the perfect “race card” with sleight of hand. Before Council business began, both the ANC and EFF accused Msimanga of being controlled by whites and questioned the presence of the two white women - Tredoux and Kock.

Despite Msimanga’s efforts to try to explain that Tredoux was acting on behalf of Mosola - at Mosola’s insistence nogal - the opposition would have none of that. They were united in not having a white person acting as city manager. They conveniently apportioned blame on Msimanga for a decision he wasn’t aware of and not party to.

Mosola exercises discretion of who acts for him in his absence without political interference. At that point battle lines had been drawn - the target was no longer Mosola but Msimanga.

What preceded the council sitting, City sources say, was that Msimanga was warned by the EFF to withdraw the notice of intention to suspend Mosola, failing which, the EFF would table a motion of no confidence in him.

When Msimanga stood his ground, moments later he received an unsigned motion on the eve of Council. The EFF had for the first time openly showed the party's hand that they would frustrate all efforts to get to the bottom of the truth of the GladAfrica tender scandal.

A question that needs to be asked from the EFF - a party that claims to be committed to the fight against corruption - is why are they so hellbent on not having the GladAfrica investigation see the light of day?

An investigation into Mosola, if Council approves Mosola’s possible supension, should be broadened to probe whether any political pressure was brought to bear on Msimanga to put the brakes on the suspension of Mosola and the GladAfrica probe.

Three weeks ago Julius Malema was on Frankly Speaking with JJ Tabane on SABC3 explaining why the EFF voted with the DA at three key metros to dislodge the ANC from power saying they “needed to remove corruption”. The same Malema changed tune on Tuesday saying his party was prepared to vote with any “credible” candidate from any party represented in Council, including an ANC candidate, after accomplishing his objective of removing Msimanga.

Reports surfaced at the weekend that the EFF made an “offer” to the ANC to vote with them if they fielded a candidate, on condition Mosola “shouldn’t be touched”. The ANC ourtightly rejected the condition fearing that acceding to that condition it would be hamstrung in rooting out alleged corruption around the GladAfrica contract.

Two Sundays ago, Mosola attacked the Sunday Times and the journalist who first broke the story, insinuating the journalist had been bought. He also launched a tirade against whites saying on social media “A small group of disgruntled white people accuse me of firing former chief of staff because she didn't have qualifications. This is their way to show qualifications mean nothing. Also, an Afrikaans firm lost against a black firm, GladAfrica”.

Mosola nailed his colours to the mast by publicly batting for GladAfrica and creating an impression that those questioning the award of the GladAfrica contract were motivated by racism.

What Mosola and his handlers won’t admit to publicly is that the whistleblowers on GladAfrica are not whites, nor do they harbour ill-feelings towards him. They are committed public servants opposed to corruption.

Mosola knows that playing the race card resonates well with the EFF, but it’s a flimsy and childish diversionary tactic.

Also, Mosola didn’t fire Marietha Aucamp, the former chief of staff in the mayor’s office. Msimanga ordered her suspension and ultimately she resigned.

Mosola’s fervent passion for dealing with people without qualifications seems to be selectively focused on the office of Msimanga. He has been mum on revelations that his own Chief of Emergency Services Previn Govender has misrepresented his qualifications. Mosola chaired the interview panel that recommended Govender and lied that he personally ensured the verification of officials that directly report to him, including Govender. The SA Qualifications Authority (SAQA) called him out. Why is Mosola applying double standards?

The ANC should live the “new dawn - Thuma Mina” mantra - and vote with the DA to ensure Mosola is suspended and immediately order an external forensic investigation into how the GladAfrica contract was awarded. Officials who blew the whistle on this daily live in fear, Mosola knows who they are and he will deal with them ruthlessly. They will not come forward and freely and openly give testimony while Mosola is still in office.

We shouldn’t lose sight of the fact that Mosola is the central figure in the GladAfrica tender scandal. Msimanga’s sin was to call for a probe without presuming anyone's guilt. The investigation will determine if there was any wrongdoing.

Mike

Pretoria East