Tue, 29 Sep 2020

The ANC contends the Gauteng High Court in Pretoria has no jurisdiction to hear an urgent application pertaining to the special Tshwane council meeting that saw the removal of the mayor and speaker because it is a political matter.

A special council sitting was convened on December 5 to deal with an urgent motion of no confidence against speaker Katlego Mathebe.

Following Mathebe's recusal, chaos ensued which saw her stand-in, Zweli Khumalo, being physically blocked from taking over the meeting.

Gauteng Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs deputy director-general Willy Bhila took over the meeting and facilitated a process to appoint a temporary speaker to hear the motion of no confidence.

EFF Tshwane councillor Obakeng Ramabodu was elected by the ANC and EFF, while the DA did not provide a candidate as it was protesting the illegality of the process, News24 previously reported.

Legality of special Tshwane council meeting in question after election of acting speaker

Mathebe was successfully removed through the motion, followed by the ousting of Mayor Stevens Mokgalapa during a continuation meeting held directly after the special council meeting.

The DA approached the court a day later when an interim order was granted suspending all the resolutions passed by the Tshwane council.

The application will be heard on December 17.

It a political matter

In its answering affidavit, the ANC in Tshwane argued the court lacked the necessary jurisdiction at this juncture to hear and adjudicate the application because it was a political matter and not a legal issue.

In his affidavit, ANC Tshwane chairperson Dr Kgosi Maepa added the court also lacked the jurisdiction to grant an interim order suspending council resolutions.

"In this regard, the court should exercise a measure of self-restraint and afford the first respondent [the City of Tshwane] and the rest of the respondents the space within their ambit to resolve the issue politically before adjudicating on the matter judicially," Maepa said.

He said the DA had failed to exhaust available and effective internal remedies to resolve the matter, such as a review process that could be held at the next council meeting.

"I am advised that this honourable court should not be seized with political matters clothed as ostensible legal matters. In this regard, [the] applicant has an alternative relief of bringing a review application against council resolutions in the next council meeting."

The ANC also argued the DA's founding affidavit in support of the application had no locus standi because it was deposed by DA MP Crezane Bosch who is no longer a councillor in Tshwane.

Maepa added the case was not urgent and the DA had failed to explicitly explain the circumstances which rendered the application urgent.

At the heart of the issues in the council meeting

The ANC said the special sitting and resolutions taken were valid because the council processes were followed by the book.

Maepa added the ANC attempted to stop the speaker from recusing herself as the meeting had not yet moved onto the item of the motion of no confidence where Mathebe would have had a conflict of interest.

After she left, Khumalo approached the podium with the intention of chairing the meeting.

"ANC and EFF councillors raised an issue of conflict against Zweli Khumalo to chair the meeting as he forms part of the office of the speaker against whom the motion of no confidence was brought," Maepa said.

According to him, Khumalo walked out as a result of the observations made by the ANC and EFF councillors.

Thereafter, members of the council approached the city manager to preside over the meeting in the absence of a speaker. The city manager then handed over his authority to the department.

Once Bhila took over, the EFF submitted a proposal to review the resolution appointing Khumalo as the stand-in speaker.

READ MORE: High court suspends Tshwane council's decision to remove mayor, speaker pending urgent application

"The resolution was reviewed and revoked," Maepa said.

However, according to the DA's founding affidavit, ANC and EFF members stormed the podium and blocked Khumalo.

"There was a violent altercation between Khumalo and the EFF and ANC members," Bosch said.

Khumalo then attempted to chair the meeting for a second time but was forcefully pushed down the stairs and told to go back to his seat.

The DA believed that from there on out the council was unlawful as Khumalo was forcibly and violently prevented from fulling the duties of speaker.

In a 2017 council resolution, Khumalo was appointed to act as speaker if Mathebe was unavailable or unable to perform her duties for any specific reason.

The DA further contended council had not removed Khumalo as acting speaker or rescind its decision to appoint Khumalo as stand-in speaker.

Because of this, the department had no authority to convene a meeting and the resolutions taken to appoint Ramabodu as a temporary speaker as well as the motions of no confidence in Mathebe and Mokgalapa were both unlawful and invalid, Bosch argued.

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