Axed City of Johannesburg mayor Mpho Phalatse has told the Johannesburg High Court that she is “entitled” to be the mayor of the city and wants the court to set aside the decision to remove her and declare her as the rightful mayor.
Phalatse filed urgent court papers on Tuesday following her ousting through a motion of no confidence at a council meeting on Friday. It was at the same meeting where the ANC’s Dada Morero was elected as the new mayor.
Phalatse wants the court to also rule that Morero’s appointment as the mayor is unlawful and declare all decisions he will take as unconstitutional, unlawful, and invalid.
Last Friday, Phalatse attempted to interdict the extraordinary council meeting, saying that it was illegal. She failed as the court threw out the matter. In the end, the motion of no confidence against her passed with 139 votes.
In the new application, Phalatse wrote in her affidavit that she was “unlawfully removed from my position as executive mayor”.
The Speaker of the City of Johannesburg, Colleen Makhubele, and new mayor Morero are cited as respondents in the application.
In the affidavit, Phalatse says if she is not reinstated in the position, the City of Johannesburg “will be governed by an unlawfully elected executive mayor”.
Phalatse has accused Makhubele of having “ulterior motives” for calling the council meeting that eventually removed her as mayor, and that she has done so for her political interests. She argued that Makhubele “unlawfully convened” the meeting just a day after she was elected as Speaker, following the removal of Vasco da Gama – also through a motion of no confidence.
“The decision is also unlawful because it was taken for an ulterior purpose. The only possible explanation for scheduling the meeting on September 30 2022 was for the Speaker to achieve some political advantage for herself and her political allies. I assume that there was a concern that, if they delayed the vote on the motion of no confidence, they may not have had sufficient votes for it to pass,” read the affidavit.
She said while Makhubele had the power to call the extraordinary meeting if the meeting was going to include a motion of no confidence in the executive mayor, she was required to afford councillors reasonable notice of the meeting. But, the councillors only received 16 hours’ notice, which she said was “not reasonable” especially because the motion was pending for weeks.
The affidavit added:
The former mayor also argued that the decision to place the motion of no confidence on the agenda of the meeting had to be taken by the city’s programming committee and that Makhubele called an urgent programming committee on Thursday wanting to place the motion of no confidence on the agenda.
“But the programming committee was not quorate when the decision to place the motion of no confidence on the agenda was taken. There needed to be at least seven members for a quorum, yet, only six were present,” read the affidavit.
“The Speaker acted as if there was a lawful decision. Again, the only explanation for her patently unlawful conduct is that she acted for an ulterior and impermissible purpose.”
Phalatse says it is “absurd” that a meeting has been called and its “sole purpose” is to debate her motion of no confidence. She said the programming committee had not met to decide whether the motion should be placed on the council’s agenda for the meeting.
“If it [programming committee] had been quorate and decided not to place the motion on the agenda, presumably, the council meeting would have been cancelled. This again demonstrates the undue haste with which Cllr Makhubele acted.”
Phalatse also wants the court to set aside the decision by Makhubele to call the extraordinary council meeting.
She says the election of Morero as mayor is unlawful and should be set aside because there was no lawful vacancy.
“The election of Morero was unlawful for the simple reason that there was no lawful vacancy. The decision to remove me as executive mayor was illegal, and therefore there was no vacancy for Councillor Morero to fill,” adds Phalatse in the affidavit.
In a statement, which Phalatse released on Twitter on Tuesday announcing that she had gone to court, she said the DA would not “stand by while the ANC and its allies use corrupt means to grab power”.
“The people of the city voted out the ANC for a better alternative and the DA will fight until the bitter end to ensure that their mandate is served,” reads the statement.