Fired ANC mayor gives Limpopo PEC the middle finger

A VBS Mutual Bank-linked ANC mayor, fired for failing to provide leadership, has allegedly showed the ANC in the Vhembe region and the Limpopo provincial executive committee (PEC) the middle a

Avhashoni Tshifhango of Thulamela Local Municipality in Thohoyandou was fired last week by the ANC in Limpopo for allegedly failing to provide leadership and irregularly investing R30 million in the collapsed VBS Mutual Bank in 2017. Now the politically injured mayor has allegedly written to the party’s national leadership asking for his dismissal to be overturned.

Tshifhango has been carrying on with his day-to-day political work as if nothing had happened. But this may not end well, as a special council meeting has been arranged to take place on Wednesday, where the PEC’s decision is likely to be enforced.

“Yes, comrade Tshifhango has been reporting for duty at the municipality as always. I can also confirm that a virtual special council meeting has been arranged [for] tomorrow. But I cannot confirm if Tshifhango’s political future will form part of items to be discussed,” said Thulamela municipality spokesman, Ndwamato Tshila, on Tuesday morning.

Tshifhango reportedly argued that although his municipality contravened the Municipal Finance Management Act (MFMA) through the investment, the council did not suffer any financial loss as the money was returned back to the council with profit.

About 15 municipalities in Gauteng, North West and Limpopo illegally invested R1 .5 billion with the bank. Nine of them were from Limpopo, while the remaining six were from Gauteng and North West. Municipalities in Limpopo invested a combined R1 2 billion. In light of this, seven mayors were fired by the ANC in 2018 and the latest casuality is Tshifhango.

Soon after he received the dismissal letter, Tshifhango apparently wrote to the ANC’s national executive committee (NEC) where he pleaded for the decision to be nullified. He argued that his dismissal had nothing to do with the VBS investment, but was rather political purging by his foes in the region and in the province.

Tshifhango’s argument was, however, supported by some PEC and council members. Two different sources spoke in favour of him.

“Of course it is a purge. His dismissal has nothing to do with VBS investment. Tshifhango’s sin was to speak a different political language against his political camarillas, popularly known as the VBS Brigades. Now he is paying the price for having a different preference, ahead of the [ANCprovincial elective] conference,” said one municipal employee, speaking on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisal.

Another source, this time a PEC member, said: “Some mayors whose municipalities suffered the same fate were not dismissed. They are the untouchables because they form part of a political clique that harbours malicious intentions ahead of the conference.

A third source, who is also a PEC member, however, said that according to an investigative report, Tshifhango was bankrolled by VBS directors in buying a Jeep.

“He later changed the Jeep, after his secret was leaked, for a brand new Range Rover. All this happened a few days after he met with VBS directors in a clandestine meeting and a few days after his municipality invested the money with the bank. That alone makes him a suspect,” said the source.

PEC spokesperson, Donald Selamolela, poured cold water over allegations that Tshifhango’s dismissal was a purge.

“This was a decision taken inline with the recommendations of the REC [regional executive committee] in the Vhembe region after the recommendations of the investigations report done by the provincial treasury on VBS,” said Selamolela.

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