News / South Africa / Politics

Alex Japho Matlala
3 minute read
22 May 2019
6:00 am

Race for Mopani mayor divides Tsongas and Pedis

Alex Japho Matlala

The district has a population of more than 1.2 million people with water provision and tribalism being the main problems plunging the municipality into chaos.

ANC banner. Picture: Twitter

Four ANC heavyweights are vying for the position of executive mayor in the Mopani District Municipality after the elevation of former mayor Nkakareng Rakgoale to the Limpopo Legislature.

At the centre of controversy is that the Tsonga-speaking people want a Tsonga to be appointed while the Pedis, who are in the majority ,want a Pedi-speaking comrade to lead the political landscape of the district. Mopani district is a principal municipality of the Mopani region, which oversees the day-to-day running activities of five local municipalities of Greater Tzaneen, Letaba, Maruleng, Baphalaborwa and Giyani.

The district has a population of more than 1.2 million people with water provision and tribalism being the main problems currently plunging the municipality into chaos. Pandemonium broke out at the ANC regional executive council meeting where Rakgoale’s replacement was discussed.

The Citizen understands those vying for the position are chairperson for Mopani district municipal public accounts (MPac) City Modjadji, Letaba local municipality mayor, Peter Matlou, Ba-Phalaborwa local municipality mayor, Pule Shayi and head of finance in the Mopani District Municipality and member of the mayoral committee Japisa Mathonsi.

Since the dawn of democracy in 1994, the district has been politically run mostly by men. Now it is understood some ANC bigwigs within the Mopani region are pushing for a female Tsonga comrade to lead the municipality, politically.

The ANC said yesterday according to a resolution taken at the 2007 ANC Polokwane conference, the region is supposed to submit three names to the provincial executive committee (PEC), the highest decision-making body between regional elective conferences for consideration.

“After exhausting all processes, the PEC will then choose one name out of the three.” The Limpopo ANC said yesterday. “For the past 25 years, this region has been led by Pedi speaking leaders. I think it is now time ripe for a well-cocked Tsonga leader, with vast track record in local governance and epic political acumen to lead” said one ANC leader, who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisal.

“Matlou, who is current acting regional secretary has done well after scooping two awards in audits and spending in recent municipal audits while Modjadji has shown great character in fighting corruption in Mopani as MPac chair. Shayi, who doubles up as current Mopani regional chairperson stands a chance as the ANC would want to avoid two centres of power. But Mathonsi, the only woman contesting the position also stands a chance because of the five district municipalities run by males in Limpopo, Mopani is the only one that has a vacuum for a female mayor in line with recent calls by ANC Women’s League for women domination in government leadership,” said an PEC member who also wanted his name withheld.

Speaking to The Citizen yesterday, ANC provincial deputy secretary Baisekop Makamu said at the end of the day the PEC would appoint the most credible person with a good track record based on merits to the position.


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