Gauteng MEC for Human Settlements Lebogang Maile. Picture: Itumeleng English English/ African News Agency(ANA)

Johannesburg - Joburg council speaker Vasco da Gama’s fate hangs in limbo.

This comes as he is set to explain to Gauteng Co-operative Governance and Human Settlements MEC Lebogang Maile why he should not be removed from the metro council over allegations of abusing his power.

The Joburg municipality is currently without a mayor after Da Gama adjourned last week’s crucial council meeting which was convened to elect a new mayor who would take over from former mayor Herman Mashaba, who officially vacated his post.

Da Gama said his decision to cancel the meeting and postpone it to this week was to seek legal advice on the meaning of “majority” in rules governing the election of a mayor.

All three biggest political parties, the ANC, DA and EFF, had put forward their respective mayoral candidates for the post.

Maile, however, wrote to Da Gama, accusing him of abusing his powers, apparently to give advantage to the DA, which controls 103 of the 270 seats in the council. He said Da Gama’s conduct would set a bad precedent and called on him to give reasons why he should not suspend or remove him as a councillor.

Speaking to Independent Media yesterday, Da Gama said he was preparing a letter to Maile to motivate why he must stay, which he said would be sent to the MEC today.

“I did receive the communication from the MEC asking for me to give reasons why I must not be removed. I am going to write to him and give the reasons. I will send him the reasons tomorrow (today),” Da Gama said.

Maile indicated that he first wanted to give Da Gama a reasonable time to explain his actions before using his statutory powers to deal with what he called an “unbecoming and unlawful conduct”.

Da Gama has acknowledged that Maile had the powers to have him removed as a councillor from the city “provided there are reasonable grounds that justified such action”.

Da Gama has acknowledged that Maile had the powers to have him removed as a councillor from the city “provided there are reasonable grounds that justified such action”.

“I know that he does have the powers to invoke the removal of a councillor in terms of the legislation. So, yes, he is taking a fair chance at wanting to do it, but he cannot just decide to remove me. The law does not allow that,” he said.

In terms of the code of conduct for councillors in Schedule 1 of the Municipal Systems Act, the MEC has powers to initiate an investigation of any conduct against a councillor and make recommendations for the suspension or removal of a councillor.

The ANC in Joburg, which has 123 seats, had hoped – in last week’s meeting – to secure the majority of votes by joining forces with the EFF, which has 30 seats.

The party accused Da Gama and the DA of blocking a democratic process by collapsing the meeting under the guise of seeking opinion on what was meant by “majority” in the rules book. It further said Mashaba was elected using the same rules in 2016 and that Da Gama had been the presiding officer.

“I know that he does have the powers to invoke the removal of a councillor in terms of the legislation. So, yes, he is taking a fair chance at wanting to do it, but he cannot just decide to remove me. The law does not allow that,” he said.

In terms of the code of conduct for councillors in Schedule 1 of the Municipal Systems Act, the MEC has powers to initiate an investigation of any conduct against a councillor and make recommendations for the suspension or removal of a councillor.

The ANC in Joburg, which has 123 seats, had hoped – in last week’s meeting – to secure the majority of votes by joining forces with the EFF, which has 30 seats.

The party accused Da Gama and the DA of blocking a democratic process by collapsing the meeting under the guise of seeking opinion on what was meant by “majority” in the rules book.

It further said Mashaba was elected using the same rules in 2016 and that Da Gama had been the presiding officer.

Political Bureau