Emfuleni Mayor Jacob Khawe has dismissed claims that he is refusing to hand over his mayoral chain, telling News24 he will vacate office by the end of next week.
Khawe has been at loggerheads with the embattled African National Congress (ANC) Sedibeng regional executive committee (REC), which is demanding that he steps down immediately.
The recent tension follows the mayor's election as the Gauteng ANC's provincial secretary in July, which is a full-time position.
He was due to take up the job three months after he was elected but that deadline expired at the end of November.
"One thing I can guarantee, there will be no Christmas where Jacob Khawe is the mayor of Emfuleni," he said to News24.
Khawe insists he is leaving the region, but says he will only do so after a number of outstanding reports have been finalised.
"The financial recovery plan by Treasury is not ready; the signing off of Section 56 employees is not ready; both of those are done by national and provincial governments. The Hawks have not given me feedback. Instead [they] have given me questions," Khawe said.
He said the speaker of Emfuleni, Elisa Maipato, suggested that a special council sitting be called once the reports had been concluded so Khawe could submit his resignation.
"As we speak, the speaker has a resignation letter; it doesn't have a date and a signature because we want to process this thing as I promised," said Khawe.
No letter sent to mayor
Khawe, who has the backing of the ANC Youth League (ANCYL) in the region, has also denied that the party's regional executive has ever written to him.
He explained that he received a letter calling for his immediate resignation, however it was addressed to him in his capacity as the ANC provincial secretary.
"As a mayor, nobody has ever asked me to resign. I saw it in the media but I have a letter from the secretary of the region to the secretary of the province saying the mayor must resign with immediate effect," he claimed.
Khawe also said the request from the REC, which is facing its own battles of credibility following its controversial June elective conference, was discussed by provincial office bearers who concluded that regional leaders had failed to apply their minds when dealing with the situation.
"The notion of refusing to resign, I suspect, is pressure to reduce my involvement in the processing of the reports on Section 56, in the conclusion of the DBSA [Development Bank of South Africa] loan and the conclusion of the forensics that are happening," suggested Khawe, who added that it was his personal reading of the situation.
The municipality, even under Khawe's leadership, was placed under administration in terms of Section 139 of the Constitution, during the heated period leading up to the Gauteng ANC's elective conference, where he was standing for the position of secretary. This means that national and provincial governments step in.
Although he admits he had not achieved all his goals while in office, he said he wanted to finish off, instead of leaving things half done.
The ANCYL in the region agrees with this view, saying the mayor should not resign until all his projects have been completed, lauding him for assisting the ANC and its government to self-correct.