THE fate of Annette Combrink, the Democratic Alliance (DA) mayor of Tlokwe (Potchefstroom), is hanging in the balance, as the African National Congress (ANC) seeks legal opinion in its bid to regain the post after infighting led to the party losing control of the council late last year.
Division in the ANC’s provincial structure, which deepened in the run-up to Mangaung, led to a motion of no confidence being passed in ANC mayor Maphetle Maphetle.
The motion was brought not by opposition parties but by rival members of the ANC caucus.
ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe in his organisational report at the Mangaung conference last month said local governance in North West was in "disarray". Tlokwe was the "most extreme case" where an "important municipality" had been "donated to the DA".
On Thursday, ANC mayoral committee member for economic development Lucky Tsagae said the council had obtained legal opinion indicating that the election of Ms Combrink was invalid as she had not signed a nomination form.
"She sent an SMS to accept the nomination. According to the legal opinion, that does not stand," he said. "We are just waiting for the speaker to call a council meeting so that we can deliberate on it."
The speaker of the municipality, Barei Segotso — who was instrumental in Ms Combrink’s appointment by abstaining from voting — was meant to have called the meeting last month.
At the end of November, a motion of no confidence was passed in Mr Maphetle. The motion was brought by ANC councillors who levelled allegations of corruption against him. The councillors later tried to amend the motion in a bid to suspend the mayor rather than dismiss him, but this was not allowed by the speaker.
After the motion was passed, 12 ANC councillors who supported Mr Maphetle left the sitting. This left 40 councillors to vote, 17 from the DA, two from the Freedom Front Plus, one from the Congress of the People and 20 from the ANC.
Ms Segotso abstained from voting, resulting in Ms Combrink winning by one vote.
The leader of the DA caucus in the Tlokwe Municipality, Chris Landsberg, said on Thursday it was business as usual for the DA and the mayor in the municipality. He added that accepting nomination via SMS was accepted practice.
ANC North West spokesman Kenny Morolong said the provincial leadership would "intensify its resolve to reclaim" the municipality.
"The ANC will observe all legal process in the quest towards the reinstatement of comrade Maphetle Maphetle as the mayor of Tlokwe," he said.
Tlokwe is at the centre of another internal ANC dispute. Provincial secretary Kabelo Mataboge was suspended during the Mangaung conference, reportedly for, among other things, failing to register seven councillors from the municipality for the 2011 local elections.
He was part of an unsuccessful bid by a group wanting former ANC deputy president Kgalema Motlanthe to replace the party’s president, Jacob Zuma.