South Africa

POISONED CHALICE

Another Tshwane mayor bites the dust as Murunwa Makwarela gets the boot

Another Tshwane mayor bites the dust as Murunwa Makwarela gets the boot
Murunwa Makwarela of Cope. (Photo: Gallo Images/Beeld/ Deaan Vivier)

Cope’s Murunwa Makwarela was disqualified on Tuesday morning from his position as a City of Tshwane councillor and therefore from his position as mayor.

The position of mayor of Tshwane has once again proved to be a poisoned chalice. Yet another Tshwane mayor, Murunwa Makwarela, has lost his job — for being an unrehabilitated insolvent. 

According to a statement released by the City of Tshwane, City Manager Johann Mettler wrote to the Gauteng provincial officer of the Electoral Commission of SA (IEC) and informed him of Makwarela’s disqualification. 

The statement reads: “Dr Makwarela was elected to the position of Executive Mayor of the City of Tshwane last Tuesday, 28 February 2023. The disqualification is in terms of Section 158 (1) (c) of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa 1986, read with Section 47 (1) (c) of the Constitution. 

“Furthermore, the disqualification is also in terms of Schedule 1, Section 19 (c) (d) of the Municipal Structures Act (Act 117 of 1998). The Congress of the People will have to submit the necessary lists for the filling of this vacancy within 21 days.”

Makwarela’s troubles began when the DA wrote to Mettler last week requesting him to establish whether Makwarela had obtained a rehabilitation order after being declared insolvent and sequestrated in the Gauteng High Court in 2016. 

In a WhatsApp message sent to Daily Maverick last Friday, Tshwane DA caucus leader Jacqui Uys said: “Makwarela must come clean on his insolvency status before he makes any decisions of consequence, including the appointment of a new mayoral committee. 

“Although insolvency is itself not a scandal, an unrehabilitated insolvent is barred by the Constitution from holding public office. Such a person is also not permitted to serve in any role that requires fiduciary responsibilities, such as trustee or a director of a company.” 


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Uys said that in the event Makwarela had obtained the rehabilitation order, the DA asked the city manager to investigate whether such an order had been obtained before Makwarela’s election as a councillor on 1 November 2021. 

“It is important to note that Makwarela would have been required to complete an IEC Annexure 4 return prior to his election as a councillor. This form includes a declaration that the candidate is not disqualified for standing for elections in terms of the Constitution or any applicable legislation,” said Uys.  

Makwarela, who is also chairperson of Cope in Tshwane and its sole representative on the Tshwane council, referred all queries regarding his disqualification to the provincial party leader, Dennis Bloem, who had not responded by the time of publication.

Makwarela was elected mayor only a week ago, on 28 February. This was after former mayor Randall Williams resigned on 13 February following Auditor-General Tsakani Maluleke’s adverse report regarding the financial affairs of the City of Tshwane, which included R10-billion in irregular expenditure. 

Read more in Daily Maverick: “Tshwane mayor Randall Williams steps down, thus avoiding another vote of no confidence   

City of Tshwane mayors have since 2016 failed to finish their five-year terms. Former mayor Solly Msimanga, who had won the City of Tshwane for the DA in the August 2016 local government elections, resigned in January 2019 amid the GladAfrica scandal.

Msimanga’s successor, Stevens Mokgalapa, resigned in November 2019. He had assumed the mayorship in February of that same year. He stepped down after allegedly being embroiled in a sex scandal with then Tshwane MMC for roads and transport Sheila Senkubuge. 

At the moment, the City of Tshwane is in limbo — as it was in 2020 — with neither a mayor nor a Speaker. A similar situation led to the city being put under provincial administration by former Gauteng MEC for Cooperative Governance Lebogang Maile. 

In response to the news of Makwarela’s disqualification as councillor, and subsequently mayor, ANC councillor Dr Kgosi Maepa said: “If I were Dr Makwarela, I would interdict the action of the city manager and DA coalition. What is the locus standi of the city manager removing or disqualifying an elected councillor? Is he the IEC?” DM

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