Issue of Umvoti mayor’s sacking in court

2008-09-08 00:00

An advocate representing the ANC Umvoti council caucus has conceded that the manner in which Umvoti Mayor Petros Ngubane was purportedly voted out of office on April 24 is “fraught with difficulty” as no prior notice was given.

However, presenting argument on behalf of the ANC caucus and 20 ANC councillors in the Pietermaritzburg High Court yesterday, advocate Sandile Kuboni said the matter should be resolved by way of a council meeting, or if necessary “properly brought back before the court”.

Kuboni yesterday argued before Judge Shyam Gyanda that he ought to dismiss an application for a declarator in favour of Umvoti Municipality (represented by speaker Hitler Maharaj) declaring the resolutions taken at the April 24 meeting, including the removal of the mayor, to be of no force and effect and declaring Ngubane to be the mayor of the municipality.

He maintained that Maharaj has no standing to bring the application. He also argued that the meeting at which the events unfolded properly re-convened as the speaker had rung the bell.

Judge Gyanda questioned during the argument whether this was in fact so, since Maharaj’s version was that he left the chamber to follow the mayor because he was ill, and that the meeting had not reconvened.

Advocate Rob Seggie for Umvoti Municipality, argued that legislation provides that council cannot sit without a speaker or an acting speaker having been elected to preside.

Judge Gyanda has reserved judgment in the matter.

The dispute arises from a budget meeting of majority IFP-Umvoti council on April 24. After the lunch break several IFP councillors did not return to the council chambers and the ANC in their absence voted on a number of issues.

These included a reduction in the proposed rates increase from 12 to six percent, and to scrap the budget for purchases such a as a new car for the mayor and items of ceremonial dress.

They also passed a vote of no confidence in the mayor.

ingrido@witness.co.za

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