DA councillors walk out in protest over ANC’s undermining of council

Werner le Grange

DA Chief Whip – Mbombela local municipality:

In a council sitting on Friday, the ANC once again demonstrated its disregard for democratic processes and upholding the law when they refused to suspend the fraud-accused manager of Mbombela municipality.

The Mayor of Mbombela Local Municipality, Sibusiso Mathonsi completely disregarded the Code of Conduct for Senior Managers as stipulated in the Municipal Systems Act when he informed council that the Municipal Manager, Noko Seanego, will remain in his position with no action taken against him following his arrest on charges of fraud and corruption.

Seanego was arrested last month in connection with the allegations of a “job for ANC-cadres scandal”. He is accused of failing to follow proper procedures when employing by-law enforcement officials for the municipality. He allegedly imposed 24 ANC cadres from Ehlanzeni District on an interviewing panel, some of whom had criminal records. This after council initially approved and advertised for only 16 posts in August last year when Seanego held the position of corporate services general manager.

During the Friday council sitting, the ANC further demonstrated its disregard for upholding the law and the authority of council when the Speaker, Jesta Sidell, allowed the Mayor to make the announcement, about Seanego, under official notices which do not allow councillors the opportunity to raise questions or for the matter to be discussed.

Under the Mayor and Speaker, the ANC has diminished the role of council and disempowered council to conduct oversight and accountability as determined by the Act by silencing council to speak on the matter.

According the Code of Conduct for senior managers, the mayor must submit a report to Council within 7 days of the alleged misconduct being discovered whereby Council must consider the report and decide on appropriate disciplinary action to be taken, and if necessary appoint an independent investigator to conduct an investigation into the allegations.

The actions of the ANC, most notably Mathonsi and Sidell, has stopped Council from playing its oversight role in this matter as determined by Law. The DA could not condone the ANC’s disregard of Council and protested against this by walking out.

The DA in Mbombela will approach the MEC for Cooperative Governance in Mpumalanga to investigate the conduct of the Speaker and the Mayor in whether the Code of Conduct for senior managers has been adhered to. We will also request our local member of parliament to raise the matter in the National Assembly.