ANC heads to court to challenge Tshwane speaker ruling

2020-01-30 21:10
Dr. Kgosi Maepa. (Photo: Deaan Vivier)

Dr. Kgosi Maepa. (Photo: Deaan Vivier)

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The ANC in Pretoria has announced it will be heading to court to force speaker Katlego Mathebe to implement the law in the council and not her own "incorrect interpretation" regarding a request to rescind a council resolution.

The ANC's decision to approach the courts for relief follows a ruling Mathebe had made during the first ordinary sitting of the Tshwane council of the year on Thursday.

Its chief whip, Aaron Maluleka, submitted a request to rescind a 2017 council resolution that saw the appointment of an acting speaker if the speaker is unable to fulfil his or her duties.

READ| 'The witch must go' - More of the same as Tshwane council sitting descends into chaos

According to the council resolution, DA councillor Zweli Khumalo was appointed as the acting speaker.

The ANC argued it had submitted this request in terms of Tshwane's rules and orders that spoke to the review of a council decision.

It also handed in its submission that was purportedly signed by a third of the members in the council and asked that a vote be taken without a debate as set out in the rules and orders.

After a short caucus break, Mathebe denied the request, citing the Municipal Systems Act, which speaks to the delegation in the council.

She said if the ANC wanted to rescind the resolution, they could bring a motion to the council to be tabled.

Unhappy with her ruling, ANC members threatened to collapse the council by staging a walkout, however, another caucus meeting was called.

As the council resumed, ANC and EFF members berated Mathebe, accusing her of misinterpreting the law and asking her to correct her mistake.

Mathebe said her ruling was final, which led to both the ANC and EFF staging a walkout and collapsing the council.

Court challenge

Speaking to the media after the council collapsed, the ANC chairperson in Tshwane, Dr Kgosi Maepa, said Mathebe had flatly refused to use any of the laws, rules and orders at her disposal.

He added the same legislation quoted by her was used to appoint Khumalo in the first place through the council, meaning it should then be able to review and rescind this decision in the same manner.

"The speaker must put this to a vote without a debate and let democracy prevail," Maepa said.

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

He added the ANC would go to court to challenge her ruling and it would also be writing to Gauteng Cogta MEC Lebogang Maile.

Mathebe, who also briefed the media after the council meeting, said she had correctly applied the right provisions of the Municipal Structures Act and used the direction of a recent court ruling to make her decision.

"I am guided by the letter of the law. If the court didn't give this guidance, I would have been persuaded otherwise. The intention of section 59[3] is for delegated matters and the municipal council took this decision. I cannot do anything as speaker that is inconsistent with the law."

Mathebe also welcomed any court challenge, arguing legislation could not be changed as and when it suits someone, but it could be strengthened.

"I welcome the decision that they will go to court so that our rules and orders [can be] strengthened and enhanced so there are no confusion or contradiction."

Attempt to remove speaker by show of hands

Earlier in the day, ANC and EFF councillors took turns in addressing points of order, asking the council to deal with Mathebe's conduct, which ended in a shouting match.

Both parties wanted the council to deal with the letter sent to the chief whip, instructing him to convene disciplinary proceedings against Mathebe relating to her conduct and possible breaches of the code of councillors.

When this was turned down, the ANC attempted to unseat Mathebe by asking the council to vote her out through a show of hands.

A majority of councillors raised their hands, with the exception of the DA caucus and its coalition partners.

READ MORE| We have a solid case and are not retreating - Maile wants to forge ahead against DA councillors

"Allow us to take you out; we don't want you; we are fed up with you, madam," EFF councillor Obakeng Ramabodu said.

"You are not fit for this seat; we are asking for an acting speaker to come and chair the meeting."

Mathebe dismissed this request, citing the rules and orders, as well as the Municipal Structures Act, alluding to the fact that there were clear guidelines and a process to remove a sitting speaker.

She added she would not allow opposition parties to derail her or the business of the day.

Following her pronouncements, the council descended into chaos. ANC and EFF councillors drowned out the speaker chanting, "Mathebe must go" and "The witch must go", News24 reported earlier.

DA councillors also fought the opposition through points of order, asking for the removal of unruly councillors from the chamber.

Following the collapse of the council, a continuation meeting will have to be convened at a later stage.

Read more on:    da  |  anc  |  eff  |  pretoria  |  politics
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