Twist in Tshwane mayor sex tape saga as Senkubuge nationality in spotlight
Johannesburg - A political storm has erupted after an unnamed complainant laid charges against embattled former Tshwane Metro Municipality Roads and Transport MMC Sheila Senkubuge, claiming she was not eligible to hold a council seat because she was not a naturalised South African at the time of her election.
Political analyst Dr Ralph Mathekga has called on the DA to take action against the mayor, Stevens Mokgalapa, and Senkubuge for bringing the party into disrepute.
Senkubuge resigned as both a PR Councillor and MMC on Friday after she landed in hot water over the release of a sex audio recording which purported to show her and Mokgalapa having sex in her council office.
The sex tape row has taken a new twist, with questions being asked about Senkubuge’s nationality when she ran for the position as a councillor.
Dr Pieter Groenewald, the FF Plus leader, said: “According to media reports, Ms Shiela Senkubuge, a member of the Mayoral Committee in the Tshwane Metropolitan Municipality, was elected as a proportional councillor for the Democratic Alliance in 2016 even though she was not even a South African citizen at the time of her election. Senkubuge was allegedly a Ugandan citizen until recently.
“It is also unlawful and unconstitutional for a person who is not a citizen to be elected to serve as a councillor.”
In her four-page resignation letter, Senkubuge said: “In light of recent events, and despite many successes, it has become clear that that attempts to vilify me are taking focus away from the purpose of my role in the office”.
Mokgalapa, who took over from Solly Msimanga who resigned at the beginning of 2019 amid allegations of tender irregularities, survived two planned motions of no confidence against him this week tabled by both the EFF and the ANC.
He told the media earlier in the week that the sex audio recording had been tampered with to make it sound as if they had been having an affair.
Mokgalapa has since taken a leave of absence after opening a criminal case of illegal surveillance, distortion of content, blackmail and extortion and defamation with the police.
Mathekga said the DA should act against Mokgalapa and Senkubuge or face the political consequences of ethical indifference.
“Indeed, the city should take action. The mayor and the MMC have thrown the city into disrepute. The challenge is that the DA now seems to be more concerned on how this sex scandal will open a chance for other parties to depose the party. This is why the DA is confronted with an ethical dilemma on the Mokgalapa matter,” Mathekga said.
“If the party goes after Mokgalapa, that will open up an opportunity for the ANC and EFF to depose the DA. If the party does not do anything about the mayor, it will be criticised for ethical indifference.”
DA Gauteng leader John Moodey said the party cannot take action against Mokgalapa because he had taken a leave of absence.
“We can only control what we are in control of. Together with our coalition partners, we will oppose any motion of no confidence against the mayor. There are no conditions. His being on leave allows the Federal Legal Commissioner to conduct its investigation.
“This is common, good governance practice. They will investigate the content and authenticity of the illegal recording. The FLC investigation team will compile a report of its findings and make recommendations. I cannot predict the outcome of such. I cannot say how long the investigation will take. What I can confirm is that it will be a thorough investigation,” said Moodey.
He added that the Independent Electoral Commission must explain how Senkubule was voted into the Tshwane council allegedly before she met South African citizenship requirements.
The EFF has also threatened court action against Speaker Katlego Mathebe after she disallowed the motions tabled to remove Mokgalapa, saying she was not satisfied with the motivations of the EFF and ANC motions. Instead, she used the meeting to appoint MMC Abel Tau as the acting mayor until January 29.
Mokgalapa’s spokesperson Omogolo Taunyane said the council would not comment further on developments around the mayor pending the outcome of the DA's internal investigation.
The ANC confirmed on Friday that the party would not be leading any litigation against the Johannesburg and Tshwane Metros.
Instead, they would join the EFF in its application as friends of the court.
“If we are to start the court application now, it will drag far too long,” said Dakota Legoete.
Mathekga added that the situation in Tshwane was a “clear indication” that political parties were far from reaching common ground.
“The whole thing is beginning to look very sad where political games seem to be the order of the day whereby the council remains deadlocked and unable to attend to the pressing needs of the community.”