A legislature member of Mpumalanga’s smallest party claims that he was fired for being too keen to negotiate with the ANC.
The Bushbuckridge Residents Association took a resolution to recall sole legislature member, Cleopus Maunye, on February 22 after a special conference. The conference also removed him as the party’s secretary-general following a vote of no confidence against him.
The party’s leadership had been in negotiations with the ANC – a process that was being facilitated by IT mogul, Robert Gumede.
The idea was that the party would be dissolved and its leaders incorporated into ANC’s branch executives committees, the Bohlabela regional executive committee and the provincial executive committee.
The organisation was formed by disgruntled ANC members who were expelled in 2010 following tribal tensions between the Tsonga and the Mapulana. The Mapulanas have been complaining that government services were being provided in predominantly Tsonga wards because ANC leadership positions in the Bohlabela region were also given to this group.
The Bushbuckridge Residents Association was formed in 2011 and won one ward in the Bushbuckridge Local Municipality. It won a legislature seat in 2014 and then five wards in Bushbuckridge after the 2016 local government elections.
Maunye told City Press that Mpumalanga premier, David Mabuza, had been attempting to negotiate with them since 2011, but nothing fruitful came out of the negotiations.
The negotiations, said Maunye, were re-started in earnest last year after a mandate from the party’s executive. This year, Maunye and the party's president, Delta Mokoena, met at Gumede’s Johannesburg home.
These renewed efforts were due to Mabuza’s campaign to unite the ANC following the party’s dwindling support in the last general elections and, probably, his subtle attempt to find something that would increase his chances to be elected ANC deputy president in December.
Maunye said he and the party's president, Delta Mokoena, attended the meeting with Gumede and agreed to go back into the negotiating table.
“After a week or two, Mokoena started to (drag his feet) about the negotiations. The Bushbuckridge Residents Association executive met and I was recalled from the legislature because they felt that I was being biased to the ANC. I raised principled issues and we didn’t find each other,” Maunye said.
Mokoena started serving a 10-year sentence three weeks ago after his appeal on his vigilantism-related crimes failed.
Maunye said that Mokoena had accused him of buying magistrates to sentence him so that he could sell the Bushbuckridge Residents Association to the ANC.
“For me it has always been about development for all the people of Bushbuckridge. I couldn’t influence magistrates. I’ve been the one assisting Mokoena on all the vigilante crimes he was accused of,” Maunye said.
The party’s acting secretary, Johannes Ndlovu, said Maunye did not listen when he was ordered to stop negotiating with the ANC.
“The ANC wanted us to dissolve the Bushbuckridge Residents Association. Mokoena said he needed to consult our members first. The secretary was ordered to stop negotiating but he continued and we called a special conference to remove him,” Ndlovu said.
Maunye said he was unsure what the future held for him, but said he would continue being an activist for development in Bushbuckridge.