Pretoria - ActionSA leader Herman Mashaba yesterday downplayed allegations of serious political ruckus within the party’s Tshwane caucus, which resulted in the resignation of its leader Abel Tau this week.
Party insiders said Tau resigned after he had a political fallout with his caucus members in council over last month’s passing of the adjustment budget.
His fellow councillors believed his exit was inevitable after he did not follow instructions on the adjustment budget.
The initial party’s stance was that the caucus should not vote in support of the budget. However, the caucus made an about-turn during a council sitting to vote in favour of the budget, claiming “a number of important accommodations were made at the last minute by the multi-party coalition”.
But the claim was effectively rubbished by DA Tshwane caucus chairperson Jacqui Uys, who released a statement saying the coalition partners “agreed to support the budget as it was originally tabled”.
An ActionSA insider said: “Basically last week they released a statement saying no support for the adjustment budget. Then we engaged them, then another statement saying they will support the adjustment budget with changes. Then their changes were rejected in council.”
It was believed by some party councillors that had Tau not resigned he would have been fired. “Tau didn’t voluntarily resign, but was forced to resign as caucus leader after his fellow councillors were not happy with him,” the insider said.
The insider went on to say: “I think he will end up joining the ANC. ActionSA is imploding.”
Tau broke the news of his resignation on the caucus’s WhatsApp group, but he did not cite reasons for leaving on the platform.
He was yesterday unavailable to comment. However, Mashaba told the Pretoria News the party agreed with Tau’s resignation to relieve him from “the workload of handling caucus”.
“Abel had to be a caucus leader and handle the complex multi-party government with the very hostile partners. We want, as a party, Abel to focus on service delivery and get someone else to be the caucus leader and that’s exactly what we did on Tuesday,” he said.
Former ACDP councillor Derrick Kissoonduth who served in council since 2006, was elected as new caucus leader.
Mashaba said: “There was a transparent secret voting and Derrick won to be the caucus leader so that focus on politics and holding the government accountable should be Tau’s focus.”
Asked whether the move to replace Tau had something to do with the adjustment budget, Mashaba said: “It has to do with the bigger picture because adjustment budget is one thing. We have lots of issues. We have the DA government which thinks it can do as it pleases so we need a team to be really focused.”
He added that he believed that his party caucus in council was taken for granted during the passing of the adjustment budget.
“In life when you encounter challenges you find ways to solve them. One thing you need to realise is that Tau had to run caucus and the housing department which are huge portfolios in the multi-party government of people who you really don’t trust,” Mashaba said.
ActionSA said Kissoonduth’s election took place after Tau “elected to step back from the position because of the need for full-time focus on the ActionSA management of the coalition in Tshwane”.
The party said the recent budget adjustment didn’t “adequately express ActionSA agenda and this will require full-time attention to correct going forward”.