Screenshots have emerged of a combative and unapologetic ANC mayor in Dihlabeng Local Municipality in the Eastern Free State calling President Cyril Ramaphosa a sellout.
The mayor, Lindiwe Kambule Makhalema, was responding to a question posed by a fellow party member in a group that only allows Facebook users who have been verified as loyal ANC members through a vetting process. To join the closed group “Loyal ANC Members” you have to, among other things, provide your ANC membership number and the contact number of your branch chairperson as a reference. The group currently has about 80,000 members.
When user Aaron Ramohashi posed a question asking fellow members to name the “biggest stinking sellout” they knew, Makhamela answered with one name: “Ramaphosa.”
When her response was shared in another group by user Majola Charles, evidently in praise of her leadership, it led to a series of heated exchanges in which Makhalema made it clear she was not about to withdraw the comment.
User Mkhulu Mbele told her he was disappointed by her conduct as a prominent ANC member and that she was not showing the discipline expected of her.
Shirley Machogo then predicted that Makhalema was flirting with being fired.
“Someone will soon be jobless here.”
The mayor responded by saying: “I don’t remember hiring Facebook VIP protector [a bodyguard for Facebook].”
Machogo accused her of ill-discipline, and then alluded to a scandal involving former Free State premier and now ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule in which Makhalema was reportedly implicated.
The mayor, before calling Machogo a “devil worshipper”, then claimed that she had “nothing to lose” and no longer cared.
In other posts, it is clear that Makhalema continues to be a staunch supporter of former president Jacob Zuma. Resharing one video of ANC members singing songs in praise of Zuma, she wrote “Mshini wami” above a post that declared the ANC “NEC made a huge mistake, President Zuma has all the time, he is working the ground.”
Earlier this year, in March, News24 ran in an in-depth article about how Magashule was “caught meddling” in an RDP housing project near Bethlehem “to ensure that a company partly owned by his daughter scored contracts worth R150 million from his provincial government”.
The report linked Makhalema closely to the scandal.
The investigation reportedly showed that Magashule had allegedly promised locals they would receive quality housing “but those living in the new houses say they are worse off than before”. They allegedly did not have electricity, water or working toilets despite the huge amounts of money that were spent on housing them.
The scandal allegedly involved Magashule directly in the appointment of a “Chinese” company, Unital Holdings, in the construction of 1 050 RDP houses on a plot of land to the north of Bethlehem.
The involvement of Magashule and his provincial government was allegedly detailed in court documents and minutes from council meetings at the Dihlabeng municipality and was corroborated by sources the website spoke to.
Sources in the local council and in the municipality described Makhalema, who at the time of the housing deal was the ANC’s chief whip in council, as a key roleplayer in removing the originally appointed company that was meant to have built the houses and awarding the deal to Unital, which is owned by Magashule’s daughter and a Johannesburg businessman. The company was allegedly set up specifically to benefit from the Bethlehem housing project.
Earlier this year, Dihlabeng said none of its officials had acted improperly in their handling of the matter.
The municipality specifially denied that “Councillor Lindiwe Makhalema (in her current or previous role as the chief whip) … put undue pressure on any official or ensured that the contract with Emendo Inc. [the original supplier] was unduly terminated”.
When The Citizen called the mayor’s office on Monday for comment, we were told she was unavailable.