The veil of secrecy around the “reshuffle” of the mayoral committee in the Democratic Alliance-led City of Tshwane municipality has finally been ripped by leaks of official documents and photographs.
The documents reveal that staff in the office of the executive mayor were threatened with disciplinary action if found distributing the posters depicting the councillors who had been appointed by the executive mayor, Solly Msimanga, but who were removed within 24 hours of their appointment.
“It has come to my attention that there is an incorrect MMC list with photos that is circulating on social media platforms. At this point is it not clear who leaked this information before it was officially approved by the EM… I would urge all our communicators to ensure compliance with approved communication policy as well as observe confidentiality when dealing with sensitive information, to avoid any disciplinary taken against you,” reads a memorandum addressed to staff in the office of the executive mayor.
According to the documents, Msimanga had appointed councillor Bruce Lee (TSUNG-WEI LEE), and Magrietha Aucamp, but had to replace them with Mike Mkhari and Seila Lynn Senkubuge, after information leaked showing he had appointed more whites than black Africans in the mayoral committee.
Aucamp has since been appointed as the chief of staff in the office of the executive mayor, while Bruce Lee was demoted to the back benches of the council.
Msimanga’s spokesperson, Matthew Gerstner, failed to answer the specific questions about the alleged reshuffle. He insisted that the only authentic mayoral committee was the one announced on the 26 August 2016, and that other “versions” were not official.
“Mayor Msimanga’s Mayoral Committee is hard at work turning around the City of Tshwane, after inheriting an almost bankrupt city with breakdowns in service delivery across the city and deep-rooted corruption. The Mayoral Committee’s composition is the most diverse that the capital has ever seen, and the Mayoral Committee membership was officially announced by Mayor Msimanga to the media on Friday, 26 August, and since then the Mayoral Committee has not changed. Any false versions before that were not the official position of Mayor Msimanga,” said Gerstner.
African National Congress spokesperson for Tshwane, Tebogo Joala, accused Msimanga’s office of perpetuating a lie about the reshuffle.
“Mayor Msimanga has perpetuated a lie about his first ever Mayoral Committee reshuffle which took place literally a few hours after its constitution, blaming a leakage on staff instead of accepting that he had pressure from within his own party, the Economic Freedom Fighters and the ANC,” said Joala.
He also disclosed that the reason the announcement of the mayoral committee was postponed from 25 to 26 August 2016 was because he had to put more black faces in the mayoral committee.
Joala said Msimanga’s office’s denial of the reshuffle was a sign of things to come.
“What remains to be answered is why mayor Msimanga would take a group photo and introduce an “unofficial” Mayco to his top management. To even dispute the lie was councillor Lee’s excited tweets thanking the executive mayor for his appointment. We are set for five years of lies and apartheid style denials and info-gate scandals,” said Joala.
It is not the first time in South Africa that a politician has been forced to reverse the appointment of politicians. Last year, president Jacob Zuma was forced to reverse his decision to appoint Des van Rooyen as finance minister after the decision received wide condemnation and the value of the Rand depreciated to record levels.