Panyaza Lesufi says ANC will ‘crush’ any attempt to remove Joburg mayor Kabelo Gwamanda
Mayor Kabelo Gwamanda is due to face a motion of no confidence brought by ActionSA over his failure to publicly address allegations of dodgy dealings. But the ANC’s Lesufi says, ‘We will crush that motion.’
Johannesburg mayor Kabelo Gwamanda of the Al Jama-ah party will most likely survive the looming motion of no confidence against him scheduled to take place later this month.
This is despite indications that the government of local unity is in trouble after ANC Gauteng chairperson Panyaza Lesufi told delegates at the party’s second annual local government summit that some of their coalition partners were treating the ANC badly.
“One of our members of the local unity government asked our councillor in Ward 7 to resign. Just imagine, we are in coalition with you and you go and say to a member, someone you are running a government with, you must resign,” said Lesufi.
Ward 7 is in Finetown/Ennerdale in Johannesburg’s deep south: it recently held fiercely contested by-elections which saw the Patriotic Alliance emerge victorious after DA candidate Randell Markgraaff withdrew, allegedly after being offered R5-million by the PA. It was too late for the DA to nominate a replacement for Markgraaff.
Read more in Daily Maverick: PA benefits from absent DA to trounce ANC in Joburg ward, but ruling party records crucial win over IFP in KZN
The by-election was held following the resignation of ANC ward councillor Amelia Zama, who was elected in the 2021 local government elections. She has since joined the PA.
Johannesburg is home to six million residents. The city is struggling financially and its road infrastructure is collapsing. Rolling blackouts and water cuts that continue for days are now regular occurrences.
Lesufi admits the coalition arrangement is far from perfect, but says they will “crush” any attempts to remove Gwamanda from the top job.
The mayor is due to face a motion of no confidence brought by ActionSA over his failure to publicly address allegations of dodgy dealings two months into the job.
“Where we stand now, in Johannesburg, we are unstoppable. Any motion against us, we will crush that motion,” said Lesufi.
The ANC, EFF and DA have indicated they would not vote in favour of the no-confidence motion. The parties hold 191 of the 270 council seats.
Read more in Daily Maverick: ‘Delinquent’ Joburg mayor to deliver State of the City Address despite threat of motion of no confidence
Daily Maverick previously reported that Gwamanda had defended himself against the allegations. He was part of a company known as iThemba Lama Africa Funeral Scheme into which people reportedly channelled money at his behest. His party admitted the allegations were partially true.
Former mayor Thapelo Amad told Daily Maverick that he and Gwamanda were part of the scheme when they were “young and naive”. He said they assisted cash-strapped people from their own pockets with the burial of loved ones. When the group attempted to convert the NPO into a business, it failed.
However, ActionSA said the mayor had not addressed the allegations extensively and that should he fail to do so by Tuesday, it would sponsor a motion of no confidence.
“We cannot allow the economic capital of South Africa to be run by a mayor who is facing serious allegations of scamming residents of funeral insurance investments at a time when service delivery is on the decline across the city,” said ActionSA’s caucus leader, Funzi Ngobeni.
“Since his election in May, Gwamanda has consistently ducked from media opportunities to come clean over the serious allegations he is facing.”
Despite coming out in support, Lesufi clarified that Gwamanda was not an ANC mayor, but had attained the position due to the party’s attempts to dethrone the DA in several municipalities.
“Anyone who misleads you that the Joburg mayor is an ANC mayor is untrue. Everything we did was a vote against the DA… that is what we did. The current mayor is not the mayor of the ANC. He is a mayor who defeated the DA.”
Lesufi said the ANC in Gauteng would do everything in its power to keep the DA from running municipalities, and in cases where the coalition arrangement did not work, Lesufi said the party would not simply look on.
“We are not married to coalitions. Those that are in coalition with us must not think that we will watch when they corrupt our municipalities and do wrong things in our municipalities. We will reach a stage where singayi isusa noma inini.”
Lesufi outlined four non-negotiable areas the party would prioritise: job creation, crime prevention, provision of service delivery and putting an end to load shedding in the province.
“Every municipality that is led by the ANC, together with provincial and national governments, must join hands to ensure that load shedding comes to an end in Gauteng.”
The local government summit continues on Wednesday. It is expected to debate the ANC’s coalition strategy as the country gears up for the 2024 national elections. DM