ANC caucus in BCM split over Pillay dismissal
Resolution deferred after provincial party leader stays CFO’s axe
An ANC caucus decision taken on Monday to fire suspended Buffalo City Metro chief financial officer Vincent Pillay was overturned at the 11th hour on Tuesday following “intervention” from the party’s provincial executive committee.
This has caused further divisions and grievances in the factional caucus with those in support of the dismissal accusing party chief whip Mawethu Marata of going against the caucus decision to approve Pillay’s dismissal.
Marata was seen to have done this by inviting PEC member Xolani Malamlela to “intervene”.
Pillay was suspended last year following public protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane’s probe into the 2013 Nelson Mandela funeral scandal.
He was found to have acted in violation of the provision of the municipal supply chain management regulations and policy when the metro forked out about R6m to transport mourners in the days leading up to Mandela’s funeral.
Following the probe the Eastern Cape ANC PEC instructed its deployees to implement Mkhwebane’s recommendations which called for remedial action to be taken against those implicated in the scandal.
An internal disciplinary hearing found Pillay guilty of illegally authorising payment of R10m for Nelson Mandela’s memorial services in 2013.
He was found guilty on two charges of financial misconduct including that he “complied with the instructions of the ANC to make available R10m” for purposes of funding transportation for the ANC’s memorial services programme.
While the metro conducted its own investigation into the matter, Pillay appeared in court but was released. He said: “I wasn’t charged. The magistrate released me on warning while others were given bail. I have not even received any sanctions to communicate the dismissal from BCM and my lawyers have not received anything too. We did get the guilty verdict documents though.”
Mayor Xola Pakati was expected to table the report with the recommendation to fire Pillay following the conclusion of the disciplinary hearing. However, the matter was deferred to the February council meeting.
The councillors said they were “advised” by Malamlela not to table and approve the report pending consultation with the provincial bosses.
During a heated meeting on Monday in the presence of another PEC member, Zinzi Rabe, the caucus resolved to approve the report. However, they were called into an “urgent” meeting on Tuesday at the city hall.
“Malamlela told us not to table and approve the report. He said the ANC needed to be consulted on the matter before a decision could be taken. This is shocking to us because the ANC was very clear on the matter when the PEC took a decision that Mkhwebane’s recommendations should be implemented,” said a councillor who asked not to be named.
Another councillor said the recommendation to fire Pillay was “harsh”.
“You should ask the people who want him to be fired what is their view for the two implicated councillors [Sindiswa Gomba and Luleka Simon-Ndzele]. Should they also be fired? Pillay did not steal money, he is suffering due to an instruction he was given by the ANC. The ANC should at least protect him,” said another councillor.
Marata said: “Irrational decisions are dangerous.
“This is the CFO we are talking about so we need a chance to interrogate the report.”
Deputy mayor Zoliswa Matana said: “Procedurally we are supposed to get reports seven days before a council meeting but with this report we did not. So we need time to go through it and see if the process taken was free and fair.”
Malamlela and Pakati declined to comment.
ANC provincial secretary Lulama Ngcukayitobi said: “If there are any recommendations that are in line with legislation, policy and law, nobody can justifiably oppose it.
“The report should be tabled and be discussed by councillors and [they should] take an appropriate resolution.”
While the saga continues, on Tuesday the council approved Ntsikelelo Sigcau to act in Pillay’s position for the next three months. Pillay said he had not received any communication from BCM to this effect and therefore he regarded himself as still in his post...