Pretoria - Embattled Tshwane Mayor Stevens Mokgalapa, pictured, remains the Number One man in the capital’s metro, and has not been expelled from the DA.
This is the response from the DA caucus leader in the Gauteng legislature, Solly Msimanga, himself a former Tshwane mayor, to stories doing the rounds on social media that Mokgalapa had been ejected from the party.
Msimanga said the stories emanated from a tweet by the ANC regional leader Kgosi Maepa, who is also the party leader in council.
Maepa tweeted: “DA has fired Mokgalapa: We just received information from internal DA sources ‘White Caucus’ that Mokgalapa has been fired. Madam Helen Zille demands that his membership be terminated. The DA is ruthless, especially to its black leaders, but it’s none of our business!”
Msimanga told the Pretoria News that “there was no such thing”, accusing Maepa of wanting to divert public attention from the ANC’s failed bid to oust Mokgalapa.
“On Wednesday, the acting municipal manager received a letter from the DA lawyers, stating that he can’t preside over a council sitting. This is just a diversion from what is happening,” he said.
This week, the DA provincial leader John Moodey said Mokgalapa’s fate would be decided by the party’s Federal Council in the next two weeks.
He said an investigation into allegations regarding the mayor’s unbecoming conduct related to a widely-circulated audio recording had been concluded.
The recording allegedly revealed how Mokgalapa had engaged in inappropriate conversation and sexual intercourse with his former roads and transport MMC, Sheila Senkubuge.
On Tuesday, both the ANC and EFF announced intentions to pass a motion of no confidence in Mokgalapa and council Speaker Katlego Mathebe during a proposed special council sitting.
The sitting was scheduled to take place on Wednesday, but that didn’t materialise after Mathebe questioned the authenticity of councillors’ signatures appended to a petition submitted by the two parties to her office.
EFF regional leader Moafrika Mabogwana accused Mathebe of playing games by refusing to convene the meeting.
“Speaker must not think that she is a final arbiter about what must happen in the City of Tshwane,” he said.
Maepa said: “If the DA is not afraid of these motions why can’t they come to council?”
He was adamant that it was legally procedural that the city manager should convene a meeting in the absence of the Speaker.
Maepa rejected accusations that ANC councillors forged signatures. “How do you explain that Kgosi Maepa and Aaron Maluleka (the ANC regional deputy chairperson) forged their signatures?”
Yesterday, the DA’s deputy chief whip in council Mpho Mehlape-Zimu rejected suggestions that Mathebe was applying delaying tactics to hold on to power by refusing to host a special council meeting.
She said the party would not have problems to let go of power if opposition parties followed legal procedures to unseat them. “We don’t mind going to be an opposition if we are removed procedurally. We are not going to look at the situation where our hard-fought democracy is trampled over.
“We have been removed in Nelson Mandela Bay and we moved on. We have been removed in Joburg, we moved (on). But, what is at play here is that this is the last metro the ANC has not taken control over since 2016. They want it back, by hook or crook. It is not that the Speaker is applying any delaying tactics,” she said.
Mehlape-Zimu said neither the ANC’s motion, nor that of the EFF, followed prescribed council rules.
She said the petition submitted for a special council sitting proposed for Wednesday was outdated.
“Every petition has to be done anew. And that is not the reason why the Speaker disallowed the petition. The time for hosting the meeting was unreasonable,” she said.
Mehlape-Zimu said her party would investigate the authenticity of the signatures. ”After our investigation, if they are found to be wanting, I will be opening criminal charges,” she said.
The motions were also planned to be passed against “the purported deputy Speaker” Zweli Khumalo, chief whip Christo van der Heever, chair of chairs Gert Pretorious and also dissolve all oversight committees.
The latest attempt to oust Mokgalapa and Mathebe came after another bid by both parties to boot them out of office during a December 5 special council sitting. The pair were then ousted through motions of no confidence, which were subsequently suspended by the Gauteng High Court, Pretoria.