A looming motion of no confidence and questions about service delivery, as well as voters’ unhappiness about a R12 billion contract, are some of the reasons Tshwane Mayor Solly Msimanga quit last week.
Msimanga announced on Friday that he was leaving his position because he wanted to focus on his campaign to become Gauteng premier after the elections.
A senior DA leader cited tension between him and the city manager, Moeketsi Mosola; the scandal surrounding the city’s R12 billion infrastructure contract with engineering consultants GladAfrica; and underfunding by the Gauteng provincial government as the reasons Msimanga resigned.
“Voters have been asking Msimanga about the GladAfrica scandal during door-to-door campaigns. He made sure that the council initiated an independent investigation, but unfortunately it has been blocked by legal challenges from the city manager.”
Another DA leader said: “I know the ANC will be saying that he is running away from the problems. He is deeply committed to the campaign and making sure we can achieve the objective of unseating the ANC in this province.”
But City Press was told by sources within the DA on Friday that Msimanga was pushed out allegedly because the DA national leadership was not happy with service delivery in Tshwane.
“Solly did not resign out of goodwill. He was pushed out because DA leader Mmusi Maimane was concerned about service delivery in Tshwane,” a local Tshwane DA leader said. The councillor said the DA forced him to resign before the ANC and EFF could table a motion of no confidence in him.
“The ANC and EFF were going to table a motion of no confidence in Solly. The DA wanted him to resign before the motion could be tabled, in order to create a narrative that the party wants him to concentrate on the election campaign.” Msimanga is the DA’s premier candidate in Gauteng.
Maimane denied that Msimanga was forced to resign.
“We would never, as the national leadership, say: ‘Well, you are not delivering there, so come do the same in Gauteng.’ That would be nonsensical. For us the statement is quite simple: we want him to focus on Gauteng as premier candidate, because we believe we can bring change here in Gauteng,” he said.
Maimane said Msimanga had been doing a great job as the Tshwane mayor. “He is the best candidate we have got. He has been doing a great job for us in Tshwane. There have been lots of things [to do] in Tshwane ... rooting out corruption and dealing with an ANC that supports corruption.”
Msimanga announced his resignation on Friday, saying it was not made lightly.
“It has become clearer to me that unless the Democratic Alliance governs Gauteng with an outright majority, the people of Tshwane will always be negatively affected by a corrupt, inefficient and uncaring ANC provincial government, no matter how hard we work to turn around the municipality.”
Msimanga will vacate office next month.
He is expected to replace Heinrich Volmink as member of the provincial legislature.
Last week Volmink tendered his resignation as a member of the DA caucus in the Gauteng provincial legislature to take up a position in civil society with immediate effect.
A special council meeting will be convened next month to elect a new mayor. City Press understands that council speaker Katlego Mathebe is a strong contender to succeed Msimanga as the mayor.
Sources say Mathebe has the backing of the DA’s national leadership.
Other possible candidates to succeed Msimanga include Abel Tau, the DA’s Tshwane regional chairperson, and Mandla Nkomo, housing and human settlement development services member of the mayoral committee.
ANC Tshwane regional chairperson Kgosi Maepa has hinted that there may be fresh elections in the city.
“We are going to get a mandate from our constituency and the ANC national leadership. If our constituency tells us to go talk to another political party, even if it is the EFF, we will do so. If our constituency says there must be fresh elections, there will be fresh elections,” he said.