By PHILIP MACHANICK
MCF supporters are reacting with outrage as they learn of the corrupt shenanigans by a small cabal that has conspired with the ANC to remove the lawfully and legitimately elected MCF PR councillors.
This action is a coup, an undermining of the democratic will of the people. Social media reports claim that your PR councillors, Lungile Mxube, Philip Machanick, Jane Bradshaw, Kungeka Mashiane and Jonathan Walton, have been removed and replaced by a renegade faction. We guess this is authentic because the official Makana municipal page reports this.
That’s right: we have apparently been removed through social media announcements. Something as significant as removing legitimately elected councillors cannot be dealt with in such a casual way. To do so utterly disrespects the voters’ rights who put us in council.
Residents need to understand precisely how their constitutional rights have been violated.
Despite repeated attempts to communicate with Municipal Manager Moppo Mene to find out if there was substance to the rumours that we were to be removed, he revealed nothing. In his largely garbled response to my questions on 20 April, he wrote: ”My Office recognises you as duly elected.”
Through word of mouth and social media, we have heard that these purported new councillors were sworn in at 9.30 am on Thursday, 21 April. We are not aware of a general invitation to councillors to attend a Special Council Meeting. Why would you swear in new councillors in secret if you have nothing to hide?
Thieves sneak around in the dark.
Bizarrely, we have had no official notification of not only this alleged inauguration or our removal as councillors. Indeed, hours after it supposedly happened, we were still receiving invitations to attend meetings!
The background is a handful of disgruntled MCF ward candidates who demanded that all of the PR councillors step down in their favour. No plausible reason was advanced for this. In what democratic election do the losing candidates get to oust the winners? That is, by definition, a coup.
You, as a voter, should be outraged. MCF’s PR councillors were selected for their high community profile. You did not vote for people you do not know.
This small group is backed by Ayanda Kota of the Unemployed Peoples Movement. It started with a series of pressure tactics. A workshop to review the elections was hijacked to attempt to force a decision on the PR list. We were invited to a meeting between MCF and UPM leadership. Instead of a small group of UPM leaders, Kota brought 20 people who shouted us down. He then called a meeting at Soccer City without inviting the duly elected management committee or PR councillors. This totally unprocedural meeting supposedly voted us all out of office. MCF scored over 18% of the vote – how can a single meeting overturn this result? This is not democracy; it is a coup – and we rejected it.
PR councillors endured threats of violence and public abuse. Kota personally told me that there would be bloodshed and taxis would show up at my home if his cabal didn’t get their way. This is the language of a factional warlord. It is not what we signed up for. MCF was supposed to represent the whole community.
What is particularly hypocritical about Kota attacking the PR councillors is that he played a leading role in deciding who would be on the PR list.
The final tactic was to call us to a disciplinary hearing, so full of procedural holes that it could be of no legal effect. The “offence”? Failing to obey the instruction to resign! How is that a disciplinary offence?
We wrote to the leaders of these shenanigans and the Independent Electoral Commission, and the Municipal Manager. We also delivered this letter to the speaker and the mayor. We explained why this “disciplinary” process was invalid and unlawful.
Despite this, the conspirators continued to collude in secret with the Municipal Manager, who informed the IEC on 6 April that we had been dismissed, thereby declaring vacancies. Note, this was two weeks before the MM claimed, ”My Office recognises you as duly elected.” To write that knowing he was in the process of removing us is sneaky and dishonest.
We want to assure the public that your MCF PR councillors still consider themselves to be your validly elected representatives. We cannot be replaced without a defensible process – certainly not by an underhand, unlawful coup. We will weigh up our options and appropriately respond to this.
We were elected to oppose this exact sort of corruption – position-seeking, deals made in dark corners, personal advantage put before the community. We were also elected to uphold the rule of law.
We have seen a picture on social media of the purported new councillors seated alongside Speaker Mabhuti Matyumza in the Council Chamber. Is this the MCF that the ANC wants to see in Council? But it is not up to the ANC to decide who the opposition should be. The evidence that the Kota camp has colluded with the ANC to replace MCF’s lawfully elected councillors is sickening. Kota’s election campaigning was almost entirely hurling insults at the ANC. Does he mean nothing that he says?
While all this was brewing, MCF councillors were doing the job we were elected to do. Dissolve corruption. Zizo jika izinto.
Since we have been in council, we have exposed a tender process with inadequate notice. We took the massive waste of funds on upgrading the James Kleynhans Water Treatment Works to the national parliament. We stopped the unlawful rerunning of the election of the council’s District representatives. We have been the most frequent voices in council and committees. We have twice called for the Municipal Manager to account for Makana’s dismal Auditor-General Reports. We have also introduced an innovative programme of shadow councillors, which we have funded by giving up half or more of our council salaries.
Our background as a civic movement does not sit well with professional politicians who are about self-serving short term gain. Our broad slate of candidates representing all community sectors was a key reason for us out-polling the DA and winning five PR seats.
Changing MCF into a narrowly-based corrupt political party beholden to the ANC is not what you voted for. That is not democracy. That is not fighting corruption. That is joining the enemy in the middle of a battle.
It is not surprising that the professional political class is hell-bent on undermining us. If you supported MCF in the elections, support us even more now. We are fighting for you, not for ourselves. We can endure death threats, insults and attempted coups because we care about our people. Our opponents do not understand this because they only care about themselves.