AFRICAN National Congress (ANC) councillors in Tlokwe were eager on Tuesday to reclaim the mayorship of the municipality from the Democratic Alliance (DA), calling for other items on a council meeting agenda to be postponed.
Maphetle Maphetle was removed as mayor late last year after councillors from his own party, the ANC, tabled a motion of no confidence in him, citing allegations of corruption. He was replaced by Annette Combrink, the DA’s first mayor in the North West.
"This is a very important day for the Tlokwe municipality," ANC councillor Lucky Tsagae said on Tuesday, proposing that reports on local economic development be dealt with in a special council sitting next week. "I doubt that we will be able to concentrate 100% on these presentations."
The motion was seconded and adopted, despite a DA councillor warning that there was "an important iron-ore report that had to be presented".
Outside the council chambers, members of the public — some clad in ANC colours — queued to access the chambers, occasionally clashing with the police and security officials.
On the agenda was a motion by the ANC to remove Ms Combrink, tabled by the group that passed a vote of no confidence in Mr Maphetle in November last year. The group wanted Mr Tsagae to become the new mayor.
On November 30, eight days after the first motion was brought on November 22, ANC councillors supporting Mr Maphetle — and who had walked out after he was booted — tabled their own motion for Ms Combrink to step down.
They argued that the mayor could not be expected to abide by the manifesto of the ANC, which won the majority of votes in the 2011 municipal elections. The "instruction" of the ANC national working committee, led by President Jacob Zuma, was that Mr Maphetle be reinstated.
In a fight-back strategy, the DA has said it wants council speaker Barei Segotso removed because she was "biased" and failing in her "statutory duties".
On Monday, the DA in the North West lodged a court application in the North Gauteng High Court in a bid to stop attempts by the ANC to remove Ms Combrink.
DA leader in North West Chris Hattingh said the date for the hearing had been set for April 29. He said the ANC councillors were not following council rules in their efforts to remove Ms Combrink.
Also, Mr Maphetle was accused of corruption at the time of his removal, and the DA wants the investigation of that matter to be concluded before he can be reinstated.
ANC council chief whip David Kham — seen as the mastermind behind Mr Maphetle’s removal — on Tuesday submitted an apology and said he would join the council sitting later.
The ANC in the North West has suspended Mr Kham’s membership but he said last month that only ANC councillors in the party’s caucus could remove him as chief whip.
The ANC has also disbanded its regional leadership in the Kenneth Kaunda region, which includes Tlokwe, as a result of Mr Maphetle’s removal. The party’s national working committee last month confirmed the decision after its visit to the troubled area.
Acting North West ANC secretary Gordon Kegakilwe was among those in attendance on Tuesday.
Acting North West ANC secretary Gordon Kegakilwe was among those in attendance on Tuesday, as were ANC national executive committee members Humphrey Mmemezi, Tina Joemat-Petterson, Bathabile Dlamini and Obed Bapela.