ANC suspends 14 Free State councillors for siding with opposition

ANC in the Free State spokesperson, Thabo Meeko. Photo: Moeketsi Mogotsi

The Free State has lost 14 councillors, including Maluti-a-Phofung’s mayor, after members of the ANC were suspended for defying a party resolution to nominate and vote a party-preferred candidate into mayoral office.

According to The Daily Post, the members nominated and voted for a candidate named Gilbert Mokotso, who has been described as “an opposition favourite.”

The opposition voted along with the now suspended members during recent proceedings in the embattled municipality that saw Mokotso occupy a short-lived tenure as mayor of the Maluti-a-Phofung municipality.

Speaking to the SABC, Free State ANC spokesperson Thabo Meeko confirmed that the members had been fired by the party’s disciplinary committee for misconduct after it was reportedly found that they had contravened the party’s constitution.

Meeko added that the suspended councillors were found guilty of promoting factions within the municipality.

“As the result of the suspensions their deployment as councillors of the ANC is withdrawn. The municipal manager must begin the process of engaging the IEC and declaring those posts vacant, and the processes of by-elections will have to start,” said Meeko.

This particular branch of the ANC has been in turmoil for months.

In May, former mayor Vusi Tshabalala was recalled when the municipality was taken under administration due to maladministration, citing lack of service delivery and a R3 billion electricity bill dating back to 2011.

Tshabalala has been blamed for the maladministration by residents and the South African Municipal Workers’ Union (Samwu).

The party reportedly intends on reinstating Tshabalala as a councillor but has run into administrative difficulties with the council. It was found that technicalities in their submission to have him reinstated had not been met.

In June, another group within the Free State ANC revolted against party secretary-general Ace Magashule and what they called “his” PEC after the election of the new ANC provincial executive committee (PEC).

They accused him of trying to ensure that his allies dominated within the party in the province.

The province is also currently involved in a legal battle to have access to an uninterrupted power supply.

The Mail & Guardian reports that the Harrismith Business Forum had named President Cyril Ramaphosa as a respondent in an application appealing to the Free State division of the High Court for an order to stop Eskom from following through on their threat to continue with power cuts in the area.

The matter has yet to be resolved.

Kaunda Selisho / The Citizen