Tshwane speaker adamant she followed the law to the letter

2020-01-28 20:36
Katlego Mathebe (Deaan Vivier)

Katlego Mathebe (Deaan Vivier)

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Reciting the Constitution, City of Tshwane speaker Katlego Mathebe sent a veiled, but poignant response to her short-lived suspension: "The national or provincial government must not compromise or impede a municipality's ability or right to exercise its powers or perform its functions."

Addressing journalists for the first time since her suspension - which only lasted five days before Gauteng Cogta MEC Lebogang Maile backtracked on his decision - Mathebe said she only worked according to the laws.

"Each and everything I do in [the] council is according to rules and orders," she added.

READ| Gauteng Cogta MEC Maile rescinds decision to suspend two DA councillors

"My work is not to be safe; my work is not to ensure that I remain the speaker, my work is to preside over [the] council and to do my work in terms of the legislation."

Her quoting the Constitution also inferred Maile was interfering unnecessarily and unlawfully in the speaker's handling of the council when there was no merit to do so. 

Mathebe and former Johannesburg speaker Vasco da Gama were suspended last Thursday by Maile for allegedly breaching the code of conduct for councillors.

His rationale behind Mathebe's six-month suspension without pay follows a special council meeting earlier in January, where she refused to bend to calls by the ANC and EFF to change the order in which four motions of no confidence would be heard.

"Clearly, the speaker's overall conduct was blatantly motivated to collapse the entire council proceedings to safeguard her self-interest at the expense of the interest of the residents of Tshwane," Maile said at the time.

Suspension

On Monday, Maile backtracked on his decision to suspend both Mathebe and Da Gama after the DA filed an urgent application with the Gauteng High Court in Pretoria seeking interim relief against Maile's decision as they launch a review application.

Mathebe, who said she followed the law to the letter, challenged her naysayers to prove where she had gone wrong in terms of the legislation.

She also denounced allegations of being partisan and putting the interests of herself and her party before council duty.

READ MORE | Tshwane speaker on Cogta MEC's decision to suspend her - 'it was a grave breach of separation of powers'

"I am not here to protect my position as speaker, that is not democracy."

New24 previously reported that Mathebe, in court papers, contended Maile did not have the powers to suspend her directly and he could only exercise such powers in response to a request from a municipal council.

"Neither the Tshwane Council nor the Johannesburg Council requested the MEC to take the steps he did. Nor was there any investigation or recommendation by either council or any special committee of either council," she said in her affidavit.

Sequence of the motions

Mathebe also addressed the issue of the motions of no confidence that ultimately led to the collapse of the special council meeting on January 16, which was held after the ANC and EFF petitioned her.

On the agenda were four motions of no confidence against the mayor, speaker, acting speaker and chair of chairs.

However, none of the motions were heard as the council had spent most of the day fighting over the sequence of the motions.

ALSO READ| Tshwane council: Battle for sequence of motions to be heard ends in acrimony

According to the agenda, set up by Mathebe, the motion against Mayor Stevens Mokgalapa was supposed to be heard first, followed by acting speaker Zweli Khumalo, the chair of chairs and lastly against Mathebe.

Both the ANC and EFF were unhappy about the sequence of the motions and argued they should be able to set the sequence as they had petitioned for the meeting to be held in the first place.

Mathebe stonewalled this request, as well as multiple requests for her to recuse herself, to make way for a Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs official to take control of the sitting.

'I will only be persuaded in line with legislation'

Citing the rules and orders as well as the Municipal Structures Act, Mathebe said it was the speaker's prerogative to decide the order of business for the day and in terms of motions, they should be set up in the order that they were received. 

"Usually, the ANC sends us motions by email, this time they opted to bring to us all the motions printed liked this. Then they were received all at the same time and the same date, so we put them in order that makes sense to us."

Mathebe said if the ANC and EFF wanted to change the order of the motions, they could have amended them using the correct procedure.

"The attempt by councillors to re-order the thing [motions of no confidence], you know, if I would have listened to all the attempts that the ANC have been making since the beginning of the term, I think this municipality would be a mess by now.

"When [the] council persuades me, I have a responsibility to be persuaded along the rules and orders along legislation.

"I will only be persuaded if it is in line with legislation, anything that is not in line with legislation I cannot do. I mean then I will be a delinquent, which I am not, and I don't plan on being one any time soon," she added.

Read more on:    da  |  anc  |  eff  |  lebogang maile  |  katlego mathebe  |  pretoria  |  politics
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