Mpho Phalatse tells court City of Joburg sitting where she was removed was 'unlawful'

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Mpho Phalatse.
Mpho Phalatse.
Melinda Stuurman
  • Mpho Phalatse was removed as the mayor of Johannesburg in a special sitting on 30 September. 
  • ANC councillor Dada Morero replaced Phalatse in a move the DA described as an abuse of power. 
  • Phalatse and her political party, the DA, have filed an application at the Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg seeking to reverse her removal and Morero's election.

Former Johannesburg mayor Mpho Phalatse has asked the High Court to set aside decisions taken by Dada Morero in the interest of justice because he was unlawfully appointed as the new mayor. 

Phalatse said council Speaker Colleen Makhubele had an ulterior political motive when she "unlawfully" called for an extraordinary council sitting which saw her being removed as mayor.

The former mayor and the DA argued in court papers, filed at the Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg, that Makhubele wanted to help her political allies and disregarded councillors when she approved Friday's special council sitting. 

The court application was filed on Monday. 

The DA wants the following declared unlawful and unconstitutional: the programming meeting held on 29 September, which rubber-stamped the extraordinary sitting; the council sitting held on 30 September; Phalatse's removal and Morero's election as the new mayor for Johannesburg. 

In an affidavit, Phalatse conceded Makhubele had the powers to call a special sitting, but took issue with the importance of the matter to be discussed which was the motion of no confidence against her. 

READ | Zille denounces ActionSA's claims of rift between DA leaders and former Joburg mayor

Phalatse said despite these powers and council rules did not specify the notice that must be issued for the sitting, councillors were supposed to be allowed at least three days to prepare for the meeting and ensure they could attend. 

The DA Johannesburg leader added if less than three days were required for the sitting, Makhubele should have justified the urgency for the motion to be debated. 

She said the decision was unlawful because it violated the Municipal Structures Act. 

Colleen Makhubele delivers address from podium
Colleen Makhubele.
Gallo Images Luba Lesolle/Gallo Images

"The notice, in this case, met neither of the requirements. Councillors were only given 20 hours' notice that there would be a council meeting. And at best, 16 hours that a motion of no confidence would be debated. 

"The urgency was entirely unjustified. The motion of no confidence in me had been pending against me for more than two months. Nothing had happened to suddenly make it so urgent less than a day's notice should be given to moving the motion," Phalatse said. 

She added Makhubele had political motives in fast-tracking her removal to achieve a political advantage for herself and her allies. 

"I am advised that it is contrary to the principles of legality to act for an ulterior purpose not permitted by an empowering provision. That is what Colleen Makhubele has done. Her decision must be set aside for that reason." 

READ | Fast and furious: Inside the election of the new Joburg mayor

Phalatse argued the council meeting was illegal because the programming committee that approved it did not quorate because the DA and other political parties had walked out. 

Another argument for the former mayor was the special sitting was unlawful because DA councillors present were not allowed to speak, Makhubele denied the DA a caucus break, and the motion of no confidence was not debated. 

Phalatse said the court should treat the case with urgency for herself and the residents of Johannesburg. 

She also asked the court to set aside and review any decisions Morero had taken while in office. 

"My removal as mayor was an abuse of power. Should I return to the office, I should not return to be faced with decisions taken by an unlawfully appointed mayor. It is in the interest of justice to set aside all these decisions," Phalatse argued.

The case will be heard next Tuesday. 

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