Cosatu calls for Limpopo Premier to step down for being ’soft’ on corruption, Newsline

Johannesburg – The SACP in Limpopo is expected to meet next week to discuss Cosatu’s call for Premier Stan Mathabatha to resign over accusations he was soft on corruption and had ceded power to a faction.

Acting provincial secretary Goodman Mitileni said that the SACP’s provincial executive committee (PEC) would hold a virtual meeting on the future of Mathabatha, who is also its central executive committee member.

He said Cosatu requested a bilateral meeting with the SACP this week after the labour federation’s PEC resolved that Mathabatha should vacate office.

“We have agreed that we are going to have a bilateral next weekend. But before that, we are going to have our own PEC over the weekend. It is out of that PEC that we will be able to express ourselves on this specific matter and other issues in the province,” he said.

Cosatu accused Mathabatha of failing to fight corruption, “outsourcing” his leadership responsibilities to a political faction and of failing to consult the federation before motivating for the reinstatement of Danny Msiza and Florence Radzilani to their ANC leadership positions following their suspension for their alleged roles in the R2 billion VBS looting scandal.

In a statement released on Friday, Cosatu said the premier must step aside.

“The premier and the provincial chairperson has abdicated his responsibilities of leading the fight against corruption and uniting the movement. Our firm view is that the premier has outsourced his leadership and decision-making to a faction.

“This has been demonstrated when key decisions by the premier are known and pronounced by the faction before official announcement,” read part of the statement.

“As a matter of fact, the federation is justified to pronounce that we have lost confidence on… comrade Chupu Stanley Mathabatha. We are therefore making a call for him to step down as the premier of the province.”

Cosatu further said Mathabatha had failed to act against allegations of “rampant corruption” in the awarding of contracts such as the R932 million personal protective equipment (PPE) issued by the provincial health department in April.

The Sunday Independent reported last month that PPE contracts had been awarded to hand-picked companies largely owned by relatives of ANC leaders, including the daughters of Radzilani and former sports MEC Onnica Moloi, who is close to health MEC Phophi Ramathuba, whom Mathabatha refused to suspend.

“The widely reported scandal regarding procurement of PPE by the Department of Health cannot be ignored. While respecting the investigation by the SIU, the federation believes that there is a case to be answered regarding corruption and nepotism,” the statement added.

Cosatu said other contracts marred by corruption and fraud allegations included the Burgersfort land scandal in which provincial Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs department paid R116.5m for land valued at R8.14m, the R2.4m Talana shack scandal in which the same department spent R60000 per corrugated iron house, as well as the questionable payments of R16m into “wrong accounts” by the Greater Sekhukhune District Municipality.

It added that Mathabatha’s government gave public works head of department Timothy Seroka “a mere suspension of three months pay” after he was found guilty of fraudulent travel claims totalling R11000.

Mathabatha’s spokesperson Mamogo Ntuli referred enquiries on Cosatu’s resolutions to the provincial ANC.

“All other questions regarding the resolutions of Cosatu PEC, can better be responded to by the ruling party,” Ntuli said.

She rejected assertions by National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union that Mathabatha’s decision to transfer his spokesperson Kenny Mathivha to the Department of Social Development was a sign that the premier protected corrupt elements.

The Sunday Independent reported last year that Mathivha had been found guilty of fraudulent travel claims.

“Mr Mathivha underwent a formal disciplinary process as required, in terms by labour prescripts, presided by an independent chairperson. The office then became bound to comply with the sanction of the Disciplinary Committee.

The Executive Authority is empowered to place or transfer in particular SMS (senior management services) members as and when the need to enforce and strengthen the workplace for service delivery arises.”

Limpopo ANC provincial secretary, Soviet Lekganyane, said the governing party was open to discussing Cosatu’s resolutions. He said while Cosatu’s statement on tender corruption in the Mogalakwena Municipality was “correct”, he could not “adjudicate” on the rest of the resolutions including a call for Mathabatha to step aside.

“What I can say is that it will be advisable for the leadership of the ANC in the province to discuss with Cosatu. They have made a political call. We were not in their meeting. If they say they have met for two days, it means they had sufficient time to discuss. We will need time with them to hear where their issues are coming from, and whether it is the right call to make,” Lekganyane said.

“Look, I cannot adjudicate on their decisions. It would be unfair of me to say this or that, but the issue I know is that anything on Mogalakwena is public knowledge although it is not a matter which they can put squarely on the premier. There is a leadership at that municipality which knows that it has to do the right thing.”

What compounded the problems in Mogalakwena, Lekganyane maintained, was that companies linked to some PEC members were involved in tender irregularities in that municipality.

He confirmed that the ANC did not consult Cosatu and the SACP before reinstating Msiza and Radzilani to their positions as provincial treasurer and deputy chairperson, respectively.

“They may not be in a position to raise the matter with us, and we may also not be in a position to raise the matter with them because that decision was taken at a higher level.

“Whatever we are doing here ourselves we are implementing a decision of a senior structure and to my knowledge, the secretary-general of the ANC (Ace Magashule) had made arrangement with Cosatu that there were going to be some engagements, and those engagements to my knowledge have not happened,” Lekganyane added.

In an interview with The Sunday Independent, Cosatu provincial secretary Gerald Twala said the fact that Mathabatha’s decision to reshuffle former public works MEC Monica Mochadi was first pronounced on social media in March was proof that he had ceded power to a faction.

“That announcement was known even before the premier made the pronouncement.”

He also accused Mathabatha of turning his back on the families of the anti-VBS activists who were murdered in 2018. They included former unionists Tshililo Timson Musetsho, Ronald Mani and former Tubatse ANC councillor Thabang Maupa.

“When there were killings in Vhembe, he did not even visit the families there. He did not attend the memorial services. He did not attend the funerals.

We are also seeing allegations that are coming time and again, your PPE, your Talana, you don’t see a premier who says, no, no, you must step aside. Let’s give the SIU an opportunity to investigate,” Twala said.

Sunday Independent