DA council hangs on in Bitou

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IOL  bitou-adam van rhyner done INDEPENDENT NEWPAPERS Adam van Rhyner, deputy mayor of the Bitou Municipality speaks to the Cape Times inside mayor's (Memory Booysen's) office at the Plettenberg Bay municipality. Photo: David Ritchie

Cape Town - A bid by an ANC opposition grouping for a high court order to enable them to topple the DA-led Bitou council has failed.

Bitou serves Plettenberg Bay and surrounding areas.

“The question raised forcibly by this dispute concerns the boundaries over which courts should cross in order to engage with what on the face of it appears to be a political dispute,” Judge Dennis Davis said.

On June 20 six ANC councillors and deputy mayor and Cope member Adam van Rhyner called for a special council meeting to serve a motion of no confidence in mayor Memory Booysen.

But Bitou speaker Annelise Olivier rejected the request to convene the meeting on July 1 as she claimed it was against the municipality’s rules of order. She turned to the high court to stop the meeting.

The matter was however postponed indefinitely.

Judge Dennis Davis said on Tuesday that the application had become moot and therefore it was inappropriate to order costs.

The ANC councillors and Van Rhyner filed a counter application on July 2 seeking an order to force Olivier to convene the meeting.

They claimed it was in line with the rules, and asked the court to set aside the municipality’s decision to declare Van Rhymer’s seat vacant and declare that he remains a councillor until lawfully unseated.

They also sought an order to stop the replacement of Van Rhyner. Cope had previously suspended Van Rhyner for breaching the party’s agreement with the DA with whom the party had a coalition arrangement. He is now facing party disciplinary action.

The matter was postponed and on July 29 the court ordered that the Independent Electoral Commission not fill Van Rhyner’s seat.

Meanwhile, ANC councillor Nolan Stuurman has resigned, and a by-election will be held on September 17. Because of this, the entire purpose of the meeting to debate a motion of no-confidence now depends on the outcome of the by-election.

Judge Davis said if the DA won the by-election, it would have seven of the 13 seats in council and a motion of no confidence would be doomed to fail.

If the motion of no-confidence was heard before the by-election, it would also fail as there would be six DA councillors plus Olivier to reject it.

“In my view this is not a case which requires the intervention of a court at this stage,” Davis said.

If the ANC grouping won the by-election, they could request another meeting. If this was rejected by Olivier, then they would be free to approach the court.

Davis dismissed the counter application with costs.

Garden Route Media



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