Tlokwe decision ‘a temporary setback’ – ANC

2013-07-29 16:06

The ANC respects the decision by the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria to dismiss an application to nullify the council meeting at which Tlokwe mayor Maphetle Maphetle was unseated.

“The ANC maintains its respect for the judiciary and the ability of our courts to dispense justice without fear or favour,” ANC North West spokesperson Kenny Morolong said in a statement today.

“This court decision is a temporary setback for the ANC, but will not defocus our movement from its historic mission of ensuring a better life for the people of Tlokwe and all South Africans,” he said.

Judge Neil Tuchten said today that the council meeting and the decisions of the council to remove Maphetle and vote in DA councillor Annette Combrink as mayor were lawful.

“It is declared that the occupation of the municipal office premises by the second applicant (Maphetle) and other respondents (to the DA’s counter application to have them vacate the offices). .. is unlawful,” he said.

“The respondents ... are hereby ordered to vacate the office premises ... before 10am on the day following the granting of this order.”

Tuchten said the sheriff of the court was directed to evict whoever did not comply with the order.

DA leader Helen Zille said the party welcomed the judgment.

“Today’s ruling means that the DA now officially governs Tlokwe, and will do so for the foreseeable future,” she said in a statement.

“This is an important moment in the continued growth of the DA across the country, and in the continued realignment of South African politics.

“The positive response from the residents of Tlokwe to the DA taking control of Tlokwe has been overwhelming.”

On July 2, Combrink was voted in as the new mayor for the second time since November, unseating Maphetle.

The application by Maphetle and Tlokwe speaker Barei Segotso sought to have the meeting at which Combrink was voted in nullified.

Zille said the judgment allowed Combrink and her team to enter their offices.

“(It also) ends the ANC’s attempts over the last month to make it impossible for the DA to begin delivering a stable, clean, and efficient government in Tlokwe.”

On July 3, the day after the council meeting, the ANC’s North West provincial disciplinary committee expelled 14 of its councillors. They were also removed as Tlokwe councillors.

Morolong said the ANC would explain the court’s decision to its members.

“Furthermore, the ANC will intensify all efforts aimed at mobilising our people for the forthcoming by-elections in the affected wards in Tlokwe,” he said.

“We call upon all members and supporters of the ANC to once more ensure an overwhelming victory for the ANC in these by-elections to entrench the will of our people and the hegemony of our movement.”

The United Democratic Movement (UDM) said it accepted the judgment.

“It is important to note that the individuals who are whistle-blowers are ANC councillors, and that the ANC chose to be on the side of the mayor (Maphetle), instead of conducting a forensic investigation,” UDM secretary general Bongani Msomi said.

“We salute the whistle-blowers for having the courage to come forward, as it is apparent that the ANC is not ready to fight corruption, especially in its own ranks.”

While the DA was in charge, it asked for a forensic investigation into irregularities at the municipality.

The probe found the council had irregularly bought Maphetle a R736 000 customised Mercedes-Benz. Maphetle was also found to have allegedly abused the municipality’s disaster management fund and poverty relief fund.

It was recommended in the report that formal disciplinary action be taken against him and other officials.

In May, the DA laid criminal charges against Maphetle. In June Public Protector Thuli Madonsela said she would investigate the claims of corruption.

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