A coalition between the African National Congress (ANC) and the Patriotic Alliance (PA) has seen the mayoral chain going to an ex-ANC mayor with a checkered past at the newly formed Ditsobotla Local Municipality council in the North West.
Patriotic Alliance (PA) councillor Elizabeth Itumeleng Lethoko was elected mayor during Monday’s council sitting. The speaker position went to ANC’s Fikile Jakeni, while Shirley Kgalapa, also an ANC councillor, was elected council whip.
Following the dissolution of the dysfunctional municipality by Parliament, by-elections for all 39 council seats took place in December.
In a huge blow to the ANC, the governing party failed to win an outright majority for the first time, with 39.82%, down from the 51% it received from the 2021 local polls.
Lethoko’s run-in with the law
Lethoko is not new to the mayoral post or controversy at the ailing council.
A former member of the ANC, she was reportedly convicted of fraud and in breach of the Municipal Finance Management Act in 2015 for attempting to influence the finance chief to use municipal funds for a birthday party, disguised as a Women’s Day celebratory event.
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The same court also found that Lethoko and her co-accused tried to influence the same official to pay R200 000 for services that amounted to irregular and unauthorised expenditure, according to the Mail & Guardian.
The incidents happened while she was ANC mayor in 2006.
The Lichtenburg Regional Court sentenced her to five years or a R10 000 fine. She paid the fine and was swiftly elected NEC member of the ANCWL- despite a criminal conviction.
ANC’s second coalition with PA
Other parties in the Ditsobotla coalition are Forum For Service Delivery (F4SD) and African Heart Congress.
Cogta MEC and ANC provincial chairperson Nono Maloyi said a meeting between leaders of the two parties will be held in Tlokwe on Tuesday to strengthen their coalition agreements.
“I think South Africans concluded that they want coalition governments to work because coalitions are not working in other municipalities. That is why there are new leaders every time in those councils, and we do not want that.
“People in Ditsobotla have suffered and that’s enough. We want to make sure that they get quality services,” Maloyi told Newzroom Afrika.
Monday’s sitting came after postponements and delays in swearing in councillors after the by-elections.
The meeting was held in Mahikeng, an hour’s drive from Lichtenburg-headquartered Ditsobotla. It was chaired by provincial Cogta official James Mashigo after the EFF objected to Ditsobotla administrator Radinaledi Mosiane presiding over meetings. The red berets said his overseeing council business was illegal because his term of office ended on 16 December.
The EFF became the official opposition, dethroning the DA after getting 26% of the votes, and further snatching two wards from the ANC.
ANC now has 16 seats, followed by the EFF with 10 and the DA now with six.
The PA has two PR (Public Representative) seats.
F4SD retained its two seats, while the few remaining seats went to smaller parties.
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