PLETTENBERG BAY NEWS - The plot is thickening around the removal of Bitou Mayor Peter Lobese after a "secret" ANC document was intercepted by the DA in Bitou which suggests the move to remove Lobese was a ploy to cover up ANC members' alleged involvement in dodgy dealings. Lobese was ousted after a recent vote of no confidence.
The ANC in Bitou has however labelled the document as propaganda "created by faceless people purported to be from the ANC".
The document is believed to be from an ANC caucus meeting and has been widely circulated. It refers to the call by President Cyril Ramaphosa for leaders implicated in corruption to step aside.
According to the document this call affects ANC regional secretary Major Sokopo, allegedly implicated in what has been dubbed the "Major Trading cc saga". It is believed that this involves civil proceedings around illegal Vat claims.
The document suggests that current Bitou Municipal Manager Lonwabo Ngoqo be removed after failing to withdraw not only this case, but also disciplinary proceedings against "comrades and officials" implicated in the so-called "LRV sales saga". This is believed to be in connection with irregularities in the process of erecting fencing across Plettenberg Bay.
The document further suggests that once Ngoqo is placed under suspension and Lobese is removed, Deputy Mayor Sandiso Gcabayi, who automatically becomes acting mayor, should appoint the ANC's Matthews Sompani as acting municipal manager.
The document further suggests that once this has been done, Sompani should remove the Major Trading case and settle out of court and stop disciplinary proceedings in the LRV sales matter. Another note in the document states that all relevant "cadres" must be immediately deployed to fill vacant positions before the local government elections later this year.
ANC chief whip Phakie Mbali said the party would not "dignify the propaganda document which was created by faceless people purported to be from the ANC". "Just like the old days of apartheid in which documents were created to confuse our people by enemy agents, this too does not surprise us," Mbali said.
"We will not dignify the DA known agenda to collapse Bitou Municipality through its nefarious means."
Sokopo stood by Mbali's statement and said there was no need to "give existence to propaganda". A request for comment from Gcabayi, Ngoqo and Sompani about the matter was sent to Bitou municipal spokesman Andile Namntu, as the three are municipal officials. Namntu also referred Knysna-Plett Herald to the ANC statement.
'Hard and irrefutable evidence'
DA caucus leader in Bitou, Bill Nel, said the party's decision to support the vote of no confidence in Lobese was based on his alleged implication in charges of fraud and corruption.
"Prior to this, the DA intercepted a secret document of the ANC caucus which clearly expresses the ANC's real reason behind the vote of no confidence. Although the DA discovered this document well before the vote of no confidence, we agreed to remove the mayor out of principle, knowing full well that the ANC's true colours in this matter will surface," Nel said.
"In the document, the ANC recounts the call of Ramaphosa for leadership who are implicated in corruption to step aside. The document specifically implicates Lobese."
He added that, despite the "relentless attempts" of the DA and the Western Cape MEC for local government, Anton Bredell, to have the Bitou municipality placed under administration, national Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma had up to now "refused to provide her required concurrence". "We trust that this document will finally leave her no option," he said.
Nel further said besides the evidence of two forensic investigations and charges laid by the DA in Bitou with the Hawks, they had recently come into possession of "extensive hard and irrefutable evidence" confirming how ANC and AUF councillors, as well as their "cadres deployed at all levels in the administration", had personally benefitted from a large variety of corrupt schemes.
"This evidence has been passed on to various sources which we will reveal shortly. Criminal charges are in the process of being laid by the DA against all ANC and AUF councillors, as well as implicated officials. Lifestyle audits will also be conducted by Sars in due course."
Mbali said it was not the first or the last time DA purported to open cases. "We have always asked anyone who is aware or becomes aware of any corruption to report it to the nearest police station and we will applaud them for doing just that what the corruption act requires from every citizen of this country."
Deposed mayor Peter Lobese declined to comment on the issues.
- Plett's new mayor to prioritise cost-cuts, service delivery
- Vote of no confidence: Bitou Mayor ousted
'We bring you the latest Plettenberg Bay, Garden Route news'