The battle over who the rightful mayor and Speaker at Phokwane Municipality are, is now in the hands of the court after the ousted mayor, Sentse Kalman, and Speaker, Horatious Modiakgotla, on Tuesday sought an urgent interdict to prevent their removal from office.
The two municipal officials were expelled from the ANC in April after they were found guilty on charges of misconduct by the party’s Regional Executive Committee (REC), where it ruled that they had undermined the decision of the ANC caucus, collaborated with the opposition in council and divided the ANC in the sub-region.
Kalman and Modiakgotla are also seeking to force the ANC provincial secretary Deshi Ngxanga to annul their expulsion, pending a review of the disciplinary process, where they argued that it was “premature and unlawful” to expel them.
Last week, Ngxanga stated that a council meeting would have been held on July 16 to elect Sisi Mothibi as the new mayor and Fana Molola into the position of Speaker.
It was on Tuesday agreed that the council meeting that was scheduled to be held on Wednesday to elect a new mayor and Speaker to replace Kalman and Modiakgotla, would instead be convened before August 5.
In court papers, Modiakgotla and Kalman stated that they were still members of the ANC and they had a right to remain in their positions at the municipality.
ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule had instructed Ngxanga on June 26 that no further action should be taken against the expelled members, pending a review by the ANC National Executive Committee (NEC).
Kalman and Modiakgotla indicated that they were still seeking internal remedies through the party structures, where the process had not been finalised yet.
“We both received an unfavourable result in the first round of the disciplinary process, which is still subject to higher appeal and review. On June 26, the ANC NEC expressly stated that it was reviewing the disciplinary proceedings. The ANC provincial secretary, the administrator at Phokwane Municipality and the Independent Electoral Commission, have all just ignored the NEC’s directorate.”
They stated that Ngxanga had notified the administrator about vacancies at the municipality, while he had known that they had appealed against the findings of their disciplinary hearings.
“Neither the provincial secretary nor the administrator took the proper steps required to ensure that the NEC’s directive was carried out. The steps taken by the provincial secretary blatantly disregards the highest structure of the ANC.”
They both denied being guilty of any of the offences that were set out in the charge sheet.
“Attempts to have us removed as councillors on the basis that we are no longer members of the ANC is procedurally unfair. We have been prematurely ousted from our livelihoods, as well as our political party.”
Kalman and Modiakgotla pointed out that no quorum was reached at the council meeting that was convened on July 17 to appoint their replacements.
They had learnt that a council meeting was again set to take place on Wednesday (July 24) to appoint the new sworn-in councillors as mayor and Speaker.
“Letters were sent to the administrator seeking various undertakings in order to avoid the need to launch this application. Factions in political parties cannot unlawfully seek to replace political opponents by failing to follow the correct procedural steps.
“The municipality’s council is constantly making decisions, passing and repealing the by-laws and appointing officials who themselves go on to make important decisions. Many of these decisions are difficult to reverse or have irreversible consequences. The mayor and Speaker both preside over meetings of the executive committee and council respectively where their positions also yield considerable power during meetings and exercise casting votes above matters that are deadlocked.”
They pointed out that any decisions taken by the new incumbents would be invalid and “could not easily be unscrambled”.
The matter was postponed in the Northern Cape High Court until next week.