Ditsobotla Local Municipality Mayor Itumeleng Elizabeth Lethoko resigned hardly twenty four hours after being elected on Monday, protesting against what her party, the Patriotic Alliance (PA), labelled as “blatant corruption in council”.
This follows the tabling of the appointment the former administrator as the Municipal Manager.
Lethoko’s nomination was supported by coalition partners the African National Congress (ANC), Forum 4 Service Delivery and African Heart Congress.
The PA said it was in full support of Lethoko’s decision to resign from her post after she tendered her resignation to speaker Fikile Jakeni.
In her letter she said that ANC never discussed the Municipal Manager appointment with the PA during the coalition negotiations. She further said that it would be unconscionable of her to have continued as Mayor following the display of blatant corruption in council and added that she could not be complicit with such behaviour, nor be asked to answer for it.
“As you well know, following the conclusion of all the items on the council agenda, a surprise matter was tabled, that of appointing the administrator as the municipal manager. At no point did the ANC raise this important matter with me or the Patriotic Alliance’s president, Gayton McKenzie, who was present all day in the Ditsobotla council for such important coalition discussions,” she said.
The Economic Freedom Fighters protested against the tabling of the matter, which Lethoko said was correct as any additional items should have been tabled through an addendum.
She further said that the manner in which the transition took place was duplicitous in the extreme and was clearly intended to sidestep proper council procedures.
“The public protector will find against this administration if we go about conducting our appointments in such an irregular fashion. My party, the Patriotic Alliance, will not be associated with underhanded tactics, which one can only presume are intended to cover up corruption in Ditsobotla,” she claimed.
Lethoko further said that the coalition government should not exist to protect wrongdoers from going to jail and that if there is a case to answer for, criminals should be prosecuted and serve their sentences.
“The current state of the municipality is a patent disgrace: bucket toilets everywhere, old women who need to carry water on their heads, potholes like lunar craters. There were indeed issues in the municipality during my previous tenure, but the rate of decline and despair that ensued in subsequent years broke my heart. I was looking forward to the opportunity to restore our municipality as a going concern, instead of just being concerned at the direction it is going,” she said.
However, Lethoko says she does not blame the national leadership of the ANC, who were supportive of a PA-led coalition in the Ditsobotla municipality, and which was informed by the national agreement between the PA and the ANC.
“As we have seen with other agreements, these coalitions are being undermined at the local level by leaders more interested in both lining their own pockets and covering up how they have lined them in the past. It is obvious that whatever attempts were made to renew the ANC here through the rerun of elections has not been a success,” she said.
McKenzie applauded Lethoko for “her principled stance and courage”.
“The ANC members in council seemed eager to have me leave proceedings early today, after Ma Lethoko was elected, but I was determined to stay until the end. I’m very grateful that I did. Stunts like these will never be tolerated by the PA. The ANC needs to learn that coalition government is different to governing a council outright. They cannot keep doing the things that they took for granted before. They have to change their ways,” he commented.