AgangSA faction ‘ousts dictator’ Mamphela Remphele

(An edited version of this article was published in the Cape Argus, a daily regional newspaper in the Western Cape province, South Africa, on 1 July 2014.)

Written by Yazeed Kamaldien

AgangSA leader Mamphela Ramphele has been ousted from her party president post, claimed a faction in the organisation yesterday.

The party’s two MPs Mike Tshinshonga and Andries Tlouamma lead this faction and said they obtained a vote of no confidence from members on Sunday.

But Ramphele’s supporters issued their own statement yesterday.

“The NEC (national executive committee) affirms that Mamphela Ramphele remains the president and leader of Agang SA,” said the party’s spokesman Philip Machanick.

He said the NEC has “taken the decision to summarily expel the ringleaders and to suspend others involved in the illegitimate unconstitutional meeting and decisions of 29 June”.

“Formal notices are being drawn up and will be issued to those concerned.”
This less than a week after a report issued to Agang SA last Wednesday outlined its troubles that includes R12-million debt.

Merle O’Brien, convenor of a task team appointed by Ramphele on June 19, had to “look into leadership, financial, structural, policy, communication and constitutional issues within Agang SA”.

O’Brien said of Agang SA: “It has at least R12-million debt. But that is what the task team knows of. This is only a provisional report and we are still busy looking at other bank accounts.”

“Creditors need to be paid R10,2-million. It also has a SARS bill of over R1-million. They have two month’s staff salaries outstanding for May and June.”

She added: “They have closed the Johannesburg office but still needs to pay R73,000 each month as the lease has not expired.

“The party owes R600,000 to one company for marketing services and there are third party costs for the launch event of around R600,000. Then there’s a company that supplied T-shirts and posters that is owed R600,000.

“People have not yet been paid to supply goods for these events. The task team has engaged them with a payment plan.”

Non-payment has also led to structural breakdown of the party, said O’Brien.
“Due to non-payment of certain salaries, the party’s member database has now been withheld. One of the staff members, responsible for communication, who did not get paid, had withheld the database,” she said.

The report also states that Agang SA has only four of eight national executive council posts filled. The four vacant posts at the party are that of secretary-general, treasurer, disciplinary convenor and national policy convenor.

“The treasurer’s position has been vacant since just after election. That was when all the debts began to surface,” said O’Brien.

She said they still needed to look into other bank accounts held in the party’s name.

“There is a parliamentary office that gets funding from the IEC that has its own bank account. You have an account that members pay their fees. And an account that funders can pay into,” said O’Brien.

“Then it has a banking account to pay its debit orders. Then another bank account to pay MPs. There are four operative bank accounts. One has been suspended because of the issue of fraud allegations.”

Tshinshonga and Tlouamma are determined to replace Ramphele, whom they call a “dictator”.

Tshinshonga said yesterday that he has claimed party leadership.

“We tolerated her ‘Kiss of Death’ (with Premier Helen Zille). Then she parachuted people into the NEC. You are just told you are no longer the chairperson. She made all these decisions on her own,” he said.

“She founded the party. We’re not firing her. We intend to unite the party and have an election in January. I’ve been elected as the interim president.”

He added: “We love her. She started the party for us. We want to keep her. But she must allow the party to operate democratically.”

Tlouamma said: “The leader was suspended for taking unilateral decisions. She went to the DA without consulting structures. She will remain suspended to make sure that the investigation of fraud in which was implicated goes ahead without her obstructing justice. She is still a member of the party.”

Ramphele declined to comment.

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About Yazeed Kamaldien

Self-employed journalist and photographer from South Africa.

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