The Minister for Infrastructure, Science and Technology Nonofo Molefhi has challenged aggrieved North East District Council (NEDC) councillors to come into the open and face him regarding their complaints that he defeated a caucus resolution in an unconstitutional manner.
Concerned councillors told Northern Extra that they convened for a caucus meeting at Thapama Hotel on the 15th of November 2015 ahead of a full council meeting which was scheduled for the 16th and 17th of the same month. It was unanimously agreed at that caucus to pass a motion of no confidence against the council secretary and his two deputies for lack of consultation.
Although the caucus resolution was passed, it never saw the light of the day as Molefhi allegedly ensured that the motion is defeated albeit in unconstitutionally. But when approached for comment Molefhi dared all the councillors to face him man to man. “I just cannot discuss party issues with the media. If any councillor is complaining, let them be man enough and face me as I have faced them without taking cover under the media,” he exploded.
According to the mover of the motion, Tati siding West area councilor Dumani Kelepi, during the caucus, all the BDP councillors unanimously agreed to pass a motion of no confidence against NEDC council secretary and his two deputies citing irrevocable differences between themselves on the one hand and the trio on the other.
“On the 16th of November 2015, we sought permission to include the motion on the agenda only to get a rude awakening in the evening when Molefhi called each one of us advising us to drop the motion. As the mover of the motion, I refused to barge as I told the minister that I won’t take an action which contravenes the constitution of the party,” he said.
He explained that the BDP constitution binds each member to abide by a caucus resolution. This was not done at the NEDC full council session and it left a good number of councillors furious and disappointed. According to the BDP constitution’s Article 32.2, there shall be a council caucus for each district, town or city council comprising all party councillors in each council.
Moreover, Article 32.3 states that the decision of the caucus shall be binding on each member. Kelepi is adamant that Molefhi’s advice to kill the motion was unconstitutional as he allegedly twisted the hands of some democrats not to support the motion. Kelepi insisted that the working relationship between the council management and councillors has broken down irrevocably as councillors are always in the dark about the daily running of their council and feel sidelined.
“When top government officials tour our area, we are never informed as we always hear the news of such visits through the grapevine. As if that is not enough, the whole district is lagging behind in developments and is hard hit by shortage of water as Water Utilities Corporation has simply failed us. The council secretary and his two deputies want electorates to take us for deadwoods. This we cannot condone. We want the whole council management removed from office,” he said.
Another BDP councillor, Kudzani Tobokwani of Themashanga village, did not hide his displeasure as he explained that Molefhi who called individual councillors asking them not to support the motion, contrary to the provisions of the BDP constitution, defeated the motion unconstitutionally.
“All in all, there are 23 councillors at NEDC and only three are from the opposition. Therefore, there was not a chance for the motion to be defeated. When we tabled the motion on the 17th of November 2015, we got a rude awakening when eight BDP councillors decided to go against the caucus resolution by opposing the motion and we then knew that Minister Molefhi’s nocturnal calls had had an effect on our intended motion,” he stated, adding that “We will not rest until our motion sees the light of day so that democracy prevails. Management at NEDC does not involve us in decisions. The district has no developments at all and even projects meant for Economic Stimulus Programme (ESP) are a laughing stock since most of those advertised in the Daily News did not come from us but the council secretary and we are left in complete darkness as to why they failed to consult us,” he said.
Siviya village councilor Bakani Badziili also told this publication that he was disappointed at the way things happened. He complained that nothing is moving at all in the district due to the incompetence of council management who have deprived the district of the much desired developments similar to the ones taking place in other districts across the country.
He further explained that information dissemination and consultation at the council is very poor as councillors are always in the dark about official events in the district. He said this frustrates their efforts as councillors to speak on behalf of their electorates who expect them to deliver unconditionally. “How then do we manage to perform when we are not invited when top government officials are around? We have been turned into unproductive representatives by the NEDC management. Hence our intention to have all three of them moved elsewhere,” he said.
Badziili informed the Northern Extra that as councillors, they suspected that the district Chairperson Flora Mpetsane had a hand in the defeat of the motion as she is alleged to have cornered a good number of councillors to have the motion defeated since she was scared that the motion might affect her position.