The leadership of Mogale City Local Municipality is embroiled in a serious dispute that has seen the acting municipal manager calling on the provincial government for assistance.
This comes after the Democratic Alliance (DA) narrowly kept control over Mogale earlier this month when a new mayor was elected, after having taken the municipality from the African National Congress (ANC) in the August election.
Abe Mbulwana on Wednesday wrote to the Gauteng Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) asking for intervention under section 139 (A) of the Constitution. In the letter, he accused newly appointed mayor Michael Holenstein of making defamatory statements and creating an environment of mistrust.
"Serious allegations have been made by the executive mayor against the administration, the current senior management, and others. It's unfortunate that the executive mayor, who was elected on December 7, can publicly make such sweeping and defamatory assertions against the administration and its management," Mbulwana wrote in the letter.
Holenstein made the allegations in an interview with The Star. During the interview, Holenstein said he inherited a dysfunctional municipality from the ANC administration and that plans to turn it around were being derailed by those who were removed from office.
He alleged that the municipality was "rotten to the core" and performing below par.
Mbulwana said the mayor ignored his advice on numerous occasions.
"This has resulted in me having to provide an initial warning that the conduct is destabilising the municipality and had advised that I will consider intervention from provincial Cogta. This appears to have been ignored. His public utterances are in contravention of section 33(1) of the Constitution," he said.
Mbulwana requested intervention to determine:
· What authority the mayor has to make such public announcements without first providing an opportunity by those accused to reply;
· The evidence that internal processes were followed before the public criticism;
· The possible disregard of the law and council's resolutions and policies;
· The impact of his conduct on service delivery and fiscal prudence;
· Possible fraud by the mayor; and
· The apparent abandonment of the council's financial process plan for 2016/2017.
He also asked Cogta to consider suspending the mayor pending the outcome of the investigation, and looking into whether the apparent breach of the councillors code of conduct merited his removal.
Mbulwana said he believed the road Holenstein was traveling on would lead to the breakdown of the municipality.
Cogta confirmed receipt of the letter. Spokesperson Mogomotsi Mogodiri said the head of department (HoD) was studying the document.
"The HoD has received the letter and he is putting processes in place to attend to it speedily because the contents are serious," he said.
Attempts to get a comment from the municipality were not successful at the time of publication.