The ANC has been pressured to distance itself from Icosa in Kannaland in the Little Karoo. Picture: SANDILE NDLOVU/SUNDAY TIMES
The ANC has been pressured to distance itself from Icosa in Kannaland in the Little Karoo. Picture: SANDILE NDLOVU/SUNDAY TIMES

Kannaland, a small municipality in the Western Cape, became the first coalition-led council after the November local government elections to unravel when the ANC pulled out of its coalition agreement with the Independent Civic Organisation of SA (Icosa).    

Located in the Garden Route district municipality and with a population of about 25,000, Kannaland, which is well known for its production of dairy and wine products, has had unstable coalition governments for years, with the municipality being placed under provincial administration since late 2018.

In the municipal elections in November, Icosa won about 45% of the vote, with the ANC coming in second with 21%, followed by the DA with 20%. 

The ANC has said it is now occupying the opposition benches. 

The ANC has been under pressure to distance itself from Icosa, led by Jeffrey Donson, a convicted rapist. Donson was elected Kannaland mayor with ANC support after the election, but an uproar followed after revelations of his rape conviction.

“We have mandated the negotiating team to process the decision of the provincial leadership to withdraw from the coalition,” ANC provincial spokesperson Sifiso Mtsweni said on Wednesday.

“Yesterday [Tuesday] the provincial co-ordinator [Ronalda Nalumango] visited Kannaland to effect this decision. The ANC’s speaker of the municipality is being withdrawn and we will assume opposition in the municipality,” said Mtsweni.

Approached for comment about the ANC’s withdrawal, Donson pleaded ignorance and texted: “I don’t know about that.”

The ANC in the Western Cape announced 10 days ago that it wanted to review its coalition agreement in Kannaland, saying discussions and agreements on coalitions should be based on its set principles of ensuring the stability of municipalities, good governance, a tough stance against corruption, strict adherence to the rule of law, as well as the creation of a nonracial, nonsexist, democratic and prosperous society.

“This includes our fight against all forms of gender-based violence,” the party said at the time.

It said while it could not impose candidates on negotiating partners, it could not ignore the reputational risk associated with what had transpired in Kannaland.

“While we respect and uphold the democratic wishes of the people of Kannaland who have on successive occasions chosen to elect Icosa as the majority party, the extended interim provincial committee resolved to mandate the negotiating team to review the coalition agreement.

“The ANC stands opposed to any form of gender-based violence and corruption.”

Donson was convicted of statutory rape and indecent assault while mayor in 2008. On appeal, his five-year sentence was suspended and he was fined R20,000.

His colleague Werner Meshoa, also from Icosa, was elected deputy mayor. Meshoa himself was convicted of fraud while he was the speaker of Kannaland and sentenced to 18 months in prison or a R6,000 fine.

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