Coun­cil­lor with a lot to lose

Lux­ury perks would van­ish if mu­nic­i­pal­ity bor­ders shift, writes Poloko Tau

CityPress - - News -

On his In­sta­gram ac­count, ANC coun­cil­lor Gideon Tshavhuyo poses be­side a Ger­man lux­ury ve­hi­cle and also posted pic­tures of his op­u­lent dou­ble-storey house, among other pic­tures show­ing the lav­ish lifestyle he lives. He has been de­scribed as a “snazzy dresser” and an am­bi­tious politi­cian.

Tshavhuyo is a prod­uct of the ANC Youth League and be­came a coun­cil­lor at the age of 29 in 2006. He was about to com­plete his sec­ond term at the age of 39 this year. He once headed the fi­nance port­fo­lio of Makhado mu­nic­i­pal­ity and of­ten acted as mayor and rep­re­sented his boss at func­tions.

But Tshavhuyo stands to lose some of th­ese perks if his vil­lage in Vuwani is re­lo­cated into the new mu­nic­i­pal­ity of Mala­mulele.

He there­fore led his com­mu­nity in a fierce bat­tle to re­main part of the Louis Trichardt-based Makhado mu­nic­i­pal­ity.

Tshavhuyo is among the 21 peo­ple fac­ing charges of ar­son, dam­age to prop­erty and pub­lic vi­o­lence fol­low­ing vi­o­lent protests that left 26 schools dam­aged by fires in Vuwani.

The Ward 9 coun­cil­lor has be­come the talk of the town not only in Mashau vil­lage in Vuwani, Lim­popo, where he lives, but also na­tion­ally fol­low­ing his ar­rest.

Although he re­cently lost in the elec­tions to be­come an ANC branch leader, not ev­ery­one be­lieves Tshavhuyo com­mit­ted the crimes he is ac­cused of.

“I don’t be­lieve as a coun­cil­lor he would join young boys in petrol-bomb­ing schools, es­pe­cially in his own area. Per­haps it is true that he was bankrolling the real per­pe­tra­tors, but I don’t see him be­ing phys­i­cally placed at any crime scene,” one vil­lager said.

Why would he bankroll such acts? A lo­cal ANC mem­ber agreed he may not have been di­rectly in­volved but said he “stood to lose a lot if Vuwani ar­eas are in­cor­po­rated into the new mu­nic­i­pal­ity to be based in Mala­mulele”. This could ex­plain why he pos­si­bly en­dorsed the vi­o­lent acts – if they are ever proven and he is found guilty. “He is an am­bi­tious man and at his age he still has a long way to go in terms of po­lit­i­cal prospects. [Tshavhuyo] is one of the charis­matic coun­cil­lors and had his eye on be­com­ing mayor of Makhado one day. Be­ing part of the new mu­nic­i­pal­ity would def­i­nitely spoil all his chances,” said another res­i­dent. “I can as­sure you, he is not the only one who is not happy about the re­draft­ing of bor­ders – all coun­cil­lors af­fected are wor­ried, although they are pre­tend­ing to be calm and toe­ing the line, as re­quired by the ANC,” added another res­i­dent. An­a­lysts are bring­ing trib­al­ism into the mix. Vuwani ar­eas are mainly Tshiv­enda speak­ing and there is a be­lief that the new mu­nic­i­pal­ity is go­ing to be made up of mostly wards com­ing from Mala­mulele, a Xit­songa-dom­i­nated area. If this hap­pened, the Ven­das would be in the mi­nor­ity. “Those from the mi­nor­ity group will have less in­flu­ence and power, and that’s not what any politi­cian looks for­ward to. There is def­i­nitely a lot at stake for th­ese coun­cil­lors,” one vil­lager said. “In Makhado, the mayor (David Mu­tavhatsindi) and the likes of Tshavhuyo, who live in Vuwani, had in­flu­ence. In the new mu­nic­i­pal­ity, chances of hav­ing a mayor from Vuwani are very slim. This means a loss of power and in­flu­ence for them.” The ANC has vowed not to pro­tect any of its mem­bers who were im­pli­cated in vi­o­lent acts and has since sus­pended Tshavhuyo, pend­ing an in­ter­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tion and the court case. It is un­likely that he will make it into the can­di­date coun­cil­lor list for the com­ing lo­cal gov­ern­ment elec­tions. Mean­while, Lim­popo ed­u­ca­tion has con­firmed that among those ar­rested was a teacher, Edzisani Muthathe. She ap­peared in court along­side Tshavhuyo on Wed­nes­day. Tshavhuyo and others will ap­ply for bail on Tues­day.

PHOTO: FELIX DLANGAMANDLA

NEW START Mo­bile class­rooms were de­liv­ered to Vuwani and sur­round­ing ar­eas to get classes back on track af­ter schools were burnt down

Sylvia Vol­len­hoven

Gideon Tshavhuyo

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