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By Martin Williams

Councillor at City

Mashatile bad for Joburg and SA, finish and klaar

Friendships with dodgy benefits have major pitfalls.

For hard-pressed Joburg ratepayers, recent allegations about Deputy President Paul Mashatile are significant.

Remember, the same Mashatile helped orchestrate the collapse of Johannesburg’s multiparty coalition government in September 2022, tipping the city into a downward spiral from which recovery is uncertain.

He is bad news for us.

On 28 September, Patriotic Alliance deputy president Kenny Kunene publicly thanked Mashatile “for being instrumental in the negotiations” that toppled the coalition.

Residents have no reason to thank Mashatile, but Kunene landed a job as transport MMC, responsible for roads – potholes included.

He’s doing okay for himself; not so much for ratepayers.

The central allegation against Mashatile is that, “tenderpreneurs and friends with billions in government contracts helped [him] … maintain his lifestyle for years, including payments to girlfriends and stays in luxury homes”.

Mashatile denies any wrongdoing. He would, wouldn’t he? Yet, he did not disown his friendships, including that with tenderpreneur Edwin Sodi, who is on trial for corruption.

Sodi is also unfavourably mentioned in the Zondo state capture commission report.

With friends like these…

Obviously, these are not ideal friends for a high-ranking public representative who has sworn to uphold the Constitution.

But in South Africa, the bar for such matters was set rather low in 2006, when then national police commissioner Jackie Selebi declared that drug trafficker Glenn Agliotti was his, “friend, finish and klaar”.

Selebi, convicted in 2010, died in hospital in 2015.

Agliotti died on Saturday. While that relationship is finish and klaar, some folks appear not to have understood the pitfalls of friendships with dodgy benefits. Is Mashatile being framed?

Tumi BB Senokoane, associate professor at Unisa’s College of Human Sciences, said in a weekend newspaper that President Cyril Ramaphosa is trying “to destabilise, tame and destroy Mashatile”.

Senokoane says: “Stories will be weaponised to ensure Mashatile is removed before the end of 2023 by the [ANC] integrity committee”.

This is a tenuous argument. Journalists who have been targeting Mashatile have also been critical of Ramaphosa on multiple fronts, including the unresolved matter of dollars stuffed into furniture at his Phala Phala ranch.

Mashatile, who is open about his presidential ambitions, is fair game.

Political parties are within their rights to ask the public protector to investigate whether he breached provisions of the constitution and/or the Executive Members Ethics Act and accompanying Code of Ethics.

To the extent that Mashatile, along with Gauteng premier Panyaza Lesufi, has been manipulating metro politics in Gauteng, the effect has been negative.

In Joburg, for example, Mashatile’s and Lesufi’s distortions of the democratic process have given us a substandard mayor and speaker from minuscule parties.

The city is being badly run, and it shows. Ramaphosa and Mashatile are both no good for Johannesburg or South Africa.

Whether they are removed by parliamentary processes or the courts, they should both go.

No matter who is in charge of the ANC when next year’s elections are held, the party must be voted out with all its baggage of corruption, sleaze and unearned lavish lifestyles.

Disclosures about Mashatile merely add to the many reasons to dump the ANC, finish and klaar.