Pretoria - Judgment was on Tuesday reserved in the application by the Tshwane ANC against council speaker Katlego Mathebe, who refused its call for a secret ballot in the vote of no confidence against executive mayor Solly Msimanga on September 27.
The party wanted the motion to be carried through a secret ballot due to the “toxic environment” within which the DA-led administration operated.
The party also wanted the council meeting in question to be declared illegal because it was hosted more than 20 minutes late.
ANC legal counsel Advocate Asum Bava SC argued that a bad precedent could be set to other municipalities should the Gauteng High Court, Pretoria, not rule against Mathebe’s decision to allow a 10am meeting to proceed outside the advertised time.
He lambasted the speaker’s decision to allow the meeting to begin at 10.40am, saying it was illegal and against the Municipal Council Structural Act.
Bava dismissed a suggestion made earlier by the speaker’s legal counsel that the ANC could have a chance to raise a motion of no confidence after 90 days following the lapse of the previous motion. “We can’t allow the illegality to continue knowing what is happening in council. The speaker is bound by the law to start a meeting on time, otherwise allowing the situation would set a bad precedent for other municipalities.”
Bava referred to a letter written by city manager Moeketsi Mosola, in which he detailed his altercation with MMC Cilliers Brink, to demonstrate the toxic environment that potentially intimidated other DA councillors against openly voting against Msimanga.
Advocate Hamilton Maenetje SC, representing Mathebe, told the court it was the speaker’s right to allow voting to take place either through a secret or open ballot.
He argued that the applicant failed to set out circumstances in which the matter was urgent. He said reasons cited by the applicant that the DA sought to remove the city manager was irrelevant to the case before court.
“The fact that there is alleged illegality does not form a basis for urgency nor does it justify jumping the gun,” Maenetje said.
He asked the court to dismiss the ANC application on the basis that it was not urgent, saying the move “opens the court for abuse”.
Msimanga’s legal counsel Mervin Rip SC, who also represented the City of Tshwane, also questioned the urgency of the ANC case. “What is the damage the ANC would suffer?” he asked.
The DA's legal representative, Nick Ferreira, said the speaker acted according to the by-law by determining the appropriate procedure through which a vote of no confidence should take place.