Sacking of Councillor exposes rifts in ANC Nelson Mandela Bay region

MARCH 18, 2015

The African National Congress (ANC) Regional Task Team in Nelson Mandela Bay on Tuesday said it supported the sacking of Councillor and Chairperson of the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality’s Safety and Security portfolio, Thembinkosi Mafana, by Executive Mayor Ben Fihla on Monday.

Mafana received a letter of dismissal from the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality's Mayoral Committee following his controversial visit to China – which raised eyebrows even in Parliament. Allegations are also that Mafana and ANCYL Regional Chairperson, Xolani Mgxoteni, boasted at local taverns that they had signed a lucrative private deal with the Chinese during their trip.

During a media briefing in Port Elizabeth, ANC Regional Task Team Chairperson, Charles Nqakula, said the task team was taking the allegations against Mafana very seriously.

"This process is under investigation, and if on the basis of us taking it very seriously, there is clear evidence of certain things he has done, starting with the trip itself- how was it funded, we are enquiring into that and if taxpayers money was used there obviously will consequences," said Nqakula.

However, the ANC Youth League Regional Executive Committee sang a different tune.

Speaking at the media briefing, Mgxoteni denied signing a “lucrative deal” with China and called for the Economic Freedom Fighters' (EFF) Thembinkosi Rawula and the Democratic Alliance’s (DA) Nqaba Bhanga to make public apologies regarding statements made on social media and in Parliament regarding their claims about the deal.

"We were amazed by the silence of the Executive Mayor Ben Fihla, Deputy Mayor Chippa Ngcolomba and Portfolio Chairperson of Economic Development Babalwa Lobishe on the matter, as if they know nothing about these Chinese.

“These comrades were made to be aware of the trip even though it was not an official trip of the municipality. To that effect these comrades have had dinners and received presents from these Chinese people," said Mgxoteni.

Mafana not going without a fight

Mafana told AlgoaFM News that he should not have been fired but suspended pending the outcome of the investigation by the ANC Regional Task Team.

He insists that the way in which Nqakula was going about the process amounted to factionalism and political victimisation.

Mafana said he funded his trip to China in his private capacity.

On Monday, he told the radio station that the Chinese were not his friends.

"They can't say they don't know those Chinese. It's their friends not my friends, because here in PE they are dining with them , even the Deputy Mayor has taken sponsorship from those Chinese, even IPads and cellphones, so I didn't get those things. The mayor was even dining with those Chinese in a restaurant, why are they acting like they don't know these Chinese?"