EMBATTLED Mbizana local municipality mayor Zoleka Busuku has become the second African National Congress (ANC) mayor in the Eastern Cape to be axed this year.
This comes amid criticism of political meddling in the administration as well as infighting among ANC councillors in the poverty-stricken municipality.
These longstanding power struggles, which have also drawn in ANC provincial leaders, forced President Jacob Zuma and the ANC’s top leaders to intervene when they visited the area this past weekend.
The ANC instructed Ms Busuku, council speaker Phikolomzi Siramza, chief whip Justice Madikizela and municipal manager Simphiwe Thobela to step down.
Last month, Mr Zuma fired Nelson Mandela Bay metro mayor Zanoxolo Wayile and his deputy, Nancy Sihlwayi.
Auditor-general Terence Nombembe recently found that councillors in several Eastern Cape councils had interfered in the running of municipalities.
This was after Mbizana received an adverse audit opinion — information provided on the municipalities’ finances was inaccurate and therefore the auditors could not form an opinion. Mbizana was last year placed under administration by the provincial government.
In 2011, local government experts placed Mbizana among the poorest municipalities in South Africa, where fewer than 50% of households have access to more than R800 a month, while 75% of households do not have access to clean water from taps.
Divisions among ANC councillors were also evident in several municipalities in North West, where last week three municipalities — Matlosana, Makwassie Hills and Ditsobotla — were placed under administration. The infighting in that province reached a climax last year with the ousting of the ANC mayor in the Tlokwe local municipality by ANC councillors. Mr Zuma again intervened to have the mayor reinstated.
Last week, the ANC defended allegations of undue interference by its newly appointed temporary leaders in Limpopo — who are seen to be Mr Zuma’s political allies — in the running of the provincial government, including in the issuing of tenders.
ANC spokesman Jackson Mthembu said last week the meeting between the Limpopo task team and the provincial government was, among other things, meant to ensure transparency of procurement so that tenders do not benefit only a few people.