The ANC in Tshwane has approached the North Gauteng High Court on an urgent basis in a bid to have last week's council sitting nullified and to allow for a motion of no confidence to take place under secret ballot.
This after a second motion brought by the ANC to have Tshwane Mayor Solly Msimanga removed was unsuccessful last week.
Previously speaker Katlego Mathebe dismissed a similar bid by the EFF, which has been voting with the DA in the council. The EFF has since opted not to vote in the motions of confidence, with 21 of its councillors abstaining.
News24 has seen the application to the North Gauteng High Court, which lists the City of Tshwane, speaker of council, Msimanga, the DA, the EFF, Cope, the ACDP, PAC and FF Plus as respondents.
In the court papers, filed on Friday, the ANC describes Mathebe's refusal to allow for a secret ballot as the "improper exercise of the discretion afforded to her" and calls for resolutions adopted at the September 27 sitting to be set aside.
"There is now a situation where members of council fear for their safety and cannot vote freely," claims ANC caucus and regional leader Kgosi Maepa in an affidavit.
'No open expression'
He claims this is due to an altercation that took place between the city manager Moeketsi Mosola and councillor Cilliers Brink. This is also linked to the ongoing GladAfrica saga – the engineering company and the City have been at the centre of allegations of tender irregularity for the past two months, following reports that it scored a R12bn deal to provide project management support to the City.
"There is no open expression and no freedom for individuals to express themselves and the council is now placed in a very invidious position where members are unable to express what they actually feel," argued Maepa in the court papers.
Maepa also cites developments in various councils where members were fired for openly defying the party as a reason why the courts should permit voting against Msimanga to take place under secret ballot.
In Nelson Mandela Bay, the DA terminated the membership of councillor Victor Manyati after he abstained from voting with the party last month. In Mogale City the EFF expelled six council members for voting with the ANC and the ANC itself expelled several councillors in Mokgalakwena for attending a council meeting with opposition parties, where the removal of their mayor was discussed.
Regarding Mathebe, Maepa complained of her late arrival to last week's council meeting, claiming that this contravened council rules, which stated a meeting that has not started 20 minutes from the advertised time is deemed as postponed, and that she failed to count council members by 10:40 to make sure they constituted a quorum. He also accused her of ignoring the ANC's objections to these issues.
"There was a clear agenda to ensure that the meeting continued on that particular day and against this backdrop the speaker refused to entertain a secret ballot," alleges Maepa in the court papers.
In February, Cape Town Mayor Patricia de Lille took her own political party, the DA, to court insisting on voting in a motion of no confidence against her being conducted via secret ballot. The Western Cape High Court's ruling left it to the speaker of the City of Cape Town's council.
Maepa also brings race relations within the DA and the party's relationship with the EFF into his arguments, claiming some black DA members and the EFF would only feel comfortable expressing their views via secret vote.
Mayoral spokesperson Samkelo Mgobhozi was unaware of the court application. However, Tiyiselani Babane, who heads up the speaker's office, said: "our legal department just informed us that we have been served. The city will go through the papers and respond appropriately."
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