City of Tshwane circus intensifies as Cope officials differ over its sole councillor’s status
Thabang Sefanyetso is one of three councillors whose presence in the City of Tshwane council chambers led to Tshwane coalition parties walking out of a meeting on Friday to elect a new mayor.
The City of Tshwane’s council chaos continues unabated with Congress of the People (Cope) officials differing over the status of the party’s sole councillor, Thabang Sefanyetso.
Sefanyetso is one of three councillors whose presence in the City of Tshwane’s council chambers led to Tshwane coalition parties walking out of a meeting on Friday scheduled to elect a new mayor to replace Murunwa Makwarela, who quit on 10 March after a few days in the job.
The other two councillors were ActionSA’s Mpho Baloyi and Mandla Mhlana.
Cope’s Gauteng chairperson Thomas Mofokeng announced on Friday that Sefanyetso’s candidacy as mayor of the City of Tshwane and his party membership had been terminated with immediate effect.
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“Cope’s provincial executive undertook a process to evaluate all prospective candidates for the vacant proportional representative seat in the City of Tshwane Metro. The vetting process revealed that Mr Justice Thabang Sefanyetso is in possession of two different identity documents and also has a criminal record,” he said.
He also alleged that Makwarela had been calling some councillors in the multiparty coalition, requesting them to accept and support Sefanyetso as Cope’s proportional representative and mayoral candidate in the metro. He also alleged that the former mayor promised them “compensation” if they accepted Sefanyetso and that he would help Sefanyetso “run the city from outside”.
Mofokeng also revealed that Sefanyetso gave the IEC a fraudulent ID number upon being selected as a potential councillor and mayoral candidate for Cope in Tshwane. This was an attempt to hide his criminal record, he alleged.
Read more in Daily Maverick: “Coalition clowns in council give Tshwane residents a big wake-up call”
In response to Mofokeng’s claims about him, Makwarela told Daily Maverick on Sunday that he could not become entangled in the matters of a party to which he no longer subscribed.
“I have resigned from Cope. I have a life to live besides Cope. I have also resigned from the City of Tshwane and don’t have the machinery to run such a big institution from outside as alleged by the Gauteng leadership of Cope,” he said.
“The group that is writing those damaging remarks about me have consistently attacked me from when I was working as chairperson of the board of directors of Joburg Market,” Makwarela said.
Responding via WhatsApp to Daily Maverick’s queries yesterday, Cope’s national spokesperson, Dennis Bloem, insisted that Sefanyetso was the party’s councillor in the City of Tshwane and that he had not been expelled. Regarding Sefanyetso’s alleged criminal record, Bloem said: “Mr Sefanyetso was fined R5,000 for over-speeding 22 years ago in 2001 and he paid the amount and was released from custody. Allegations of a fraudulent ID supplied by Sefanyetso to the IEC are fake.”
Regarding the eligibility of ActionSA’s Mhlana and Baloyi as councillors, the party’s national chairperson, Michael Beaumont, told Daily Maverick on Saturday that the two had been expelled from the party for offences that included voting for Makwarela as mayor on 28 February 2023 and speaker Mncedi Ndzwanana on 13 March 2023 in contravention of ActionSA’s resolution to vote for multiparty coalition mayoral candidate Cilliers Brink and speaker candidate Kholofelo Morodi.
Beaumont said the two failed a lie-detector test conducted by ActionSA to determine for whom they had voted on both occasions.
Speaker Ndzwanana refused to remove the three embattled councillors from council chambers on Friday, saying he had not received notices from the IEC in this regard. His refusal led to the walk-out by multiparty coalition councillors, led by Brink.
The multiparty coalition said on Friday: “The multiparty coalition in the City of Tshwane has walked out of council following the refusal of the speaker to act on the requirement to remove terminated former councillors from the chambers.
“ActionSA terminated the membership of two of its councillors this morning and Cope has communicated the withdrawal of their councillor in Tshwane. Despite this, the speaker has refused to act on these vacancies, claiming not to have received an official notice from the IEC and city manager.”
At the time of publication, the IEC had not responded to Daily Maverick’s queries regarding the status of the three councillors.
To add to the chaos, ActionSA on Thursday laid criminal charges at the Olievenhoutbosch police station against two people whom they allege were sent by the leader of Defenders of the People, a minority party in the council, to bribe ActionSA councillor Kgosietsile Kgosiemang. The party claimed Kgosiemang was offered R2-million in exchange for voting for Makwarela in the 28 February mayoral elections.
Makwarela, who won the mayoral election, quit in a huff on 10 March after it emerged that he had submitted a fraudulent certificate of rehabilitation from insolvency to city manager Johann Mettler.
Apparently eager not to be left out of the City of Tshwane circus, the ANC marched to the metro’s council chambers on Friday to deliver a memorandum of grievances to Ndzwanana, the newly elected speaker.
Read aloud to the crowd of marchers by ANC First Deputy Secretary-General Nomvula Mokonyane, the party’s demands included:
- Stabilise municipal governance and ensure independent investigations into all corruption and maladministration that occurred over the past seven years under the DA-led administration.
- Fill all vacant positions in the next three months, without the DA’s political influence.
- Develop a meter-reading system that is not based on estimates, which lead to the exploitation of society’s most vulnerable.
- Reinstate the indigent programme, and ensure that the poor and vulnerable pensioners and child-headed households benefit.
- Reinstate Tshwane Free Wi-Fi at schools, universities and malls.
- Honour the collective bargaining agreement with municipal workers.
- Pay Eskom and other contractors on time, and play an active role in clearing all debts to ensure that the city operates smoothly on a day-to-day basis.
The Office of the Speaker said on Monday, 20 March 2023 that a special council meeting would be held at 10am on Wednesday, 22 March to elect the new mayor of Tshwane*. DM
* This article was updated on Monday, 20 March 2023.