TSHWANE mayor-in-waiting Stevens Mokgalapa is positive he can defuse the controversy around the irregular GladAfrica tender within a week in office.
Mokgalapa, in an interview with the Pretoria News, expressed confidence he would be ushered in as the new mayor during a special council sitting tomorrow without any political hindrance.
His predecessor, outgoing Mayor Solly Msimanga, resigned to focus on his campaign as DA candidate for Gauteng premier in the May 8 polls.
While Msimanga’s administration was constantly troubled by bad publicity linked to a R12billion GladAfrica tender, Mokgalapa believed the situation would soon be a thing of the past.
He was mindful of the Auditor-General’s (AG) declaration that the public project management tender was irregular, saying he would follow through on the recommendations that were made. “We will follow due processes of council to consider the AG's report. Within a week I should be able to call you guys (journalists) to address the matter so that we no longer talk about GladAfrica, but about service delivery,” Mokgalapa said.
However, he was reluctant to divulge his strategy to settle the scandal around the tender awarded in November 2017. “There are couple of options. At this point in time I would not like to make pronouncements without first having the relevant facts,” he said.
He would interact with city manager Dr Moeketsi Mosola about relevant options because he didn’t “want anything that will compromise service delivery”.
He also spoke about managing political tensions among political parties in council. The EFF, which has 25 council seats, turned out to be a thorn in the flesh of Msimanga, especially when he dealt with issues related to the infamous GladAfrica tender and Mosola’s fate.
Besides the party’s hostile attitude to Msimanga, Mokgalapa said: “I am confident we will go through on Tuesday (tomorrow). If it is God’s will and God willing, His will will prevail.”
With the metro characterised by coalition politics, the DA-led coalition is banking on the EFF to vote with it.
“The DA doesn’t have an outright majority, but we have the largest numbers. We count on the quorum of the EFF and definitely in the spirit of coalition politics. Putting the interests of the people of the city first and service delivery, I am confident that the members of council will vote on that principle,” Mokgalapa said.
Some EFF leaders have publicly questioned his political credentials, casting him as a dark horse.
But Mokgalapa said: “My credentials are quite impeccable and I am sure that it (talk about his unknown status to the EFF) is just a political ploy because we should be able to know each other.”
Until now a DA MP, having previously served as councillor in Tshwane, Mokgalapa said he ran into most of the EFF leaders during the electioneering period in the 2016 municipal polls. “I am very confident that we do know each other. I have had three by-elections in Tshwane lately,” he said.
“For them to say they don’t know me I think it is a question of saying from 2016, when they came into council, they have never seen me.”
Born in Winterveldt, he went to Mabopane High School and then the University of Pretoria, where he obtained his Political Science degree.
Under his leadership, he plans to prioritise service delivery in the metro. “People want access to water and electricity. Those things don’t have colour. There is no blue water or red water It is about putting the interests of the people of the capital city first.”
Basic services to be prioritised, include cleaning-up the city, cutting grass at cemeteries, ensuring street-lights are functional, collecting refuse on time, dealing with litter and cable theft and ensuring traffic lights were working.
Scandals around the alleged irregular appointments in the mayor’s office would get his attention as well, he said.
The City would look at having a policy that deals with political appointments. However, he said those appointed in the absence of that policy would face the rule of law.
Msimanga's and his MMCs' term will end at midnight. And Mokgalapa said: “It goes without saying that there will be a new mayoral committee. It is just a normal thing in politics.”