A new coalition government elected at a council meeting in the Witzenberg Municipality has sparked tension, with the DA saying it would challenge the outcomes.
The new leadership, which includes the ANC, EFF and the Patriotic Alliance, removed DA mayor Hennie Smit and Speaker Elizabeth Sidego at the council meeting on Monday.
While the DA said the meeting was unlawful as it was held in the party’s absence, the new leadership said the party staged a walk-out when they saw that they were going to lose the council vote.
Katriena Robyn of the GOOD Party was elected as the new mayor, the ANC’s Gert Laban as her deputy and Petrus Heradien of the Independent Civic Organisation of South Africa as the Speaker.
DA Constituency head in Witzenberg, Wendy Kaizer-Philander, said the meeting was unlawful and was held in the absence of a presiding officer.
“On Monday, July 24, council was scheduled to elect a deputy mayor, where councillor Gert Laban was elected.
“Hereafter the previous motion became mute and is thus not part of council business of the day.
“The power-hungry coalition partners, after the Speaker adjourned the meeting since there was no further business to deal with, held their own meeting in the absence of a presiding officer as prescribed in Section 29 of the Municipal Structures Act. They acted unlawfully, once again.
“As seen over the past few weeks, the GOOD Party, together with the ANC, are making a mockery of our Constitution and council processes,” she said.
Kaizer-Philander said Smit and Sidego will remain in their positions.
ANC Western Cape provincial secretary Neville Delport said the meeting was legal.
“It is vital to emphasise that the ANC’s motion was in pursuit of ensuring accountability, transparency, and good governance within the municipality, and was executed with utmost adherence to democratic principles,” he said.
“We are deeply disappointed by the actions of the DA councillors who chose to walk out of the meeting. Such a display of defiance undermines the democratic process and hinders their ability to address pressing issues that demand immediate attention,“ he said.
GOOD Party secretary-general Brett Herron said the new coalition government was consulting their lawyers.
“If the DA intends to continue to subvert democracy, we will approach the high court and seek an order compelling them. We do not believe that the residents of Witzenberg should have to pay for the legal costs of the DA's abuse of power. Our instructions will be to seek a punitive personal costs order against the DA speaker,” he said.