Pretoria - Both the EFF and ANC in the Tshwane council have pledged their support for a legal bid by former mayor Dr Murunwa Makwarela to challenge a decision to remove him as a councillor.
The parties want Makwarela to stay put as mayor and continue his court challenge to overturn a decision by city manager Johann Mettler that he had been disqualified as a councillor because he was declared insolvent by the Gauteng High Court, Pretoria, in 2016.
But the DA wants the process to elect a new executive mayor to be hastened in the name of stabilising the running of the municipality.
ANC regional secretary George Matjila said the party was deeply concerned by the latest revelations about the insolvency of Makwarela, who received 112 votes, against former DA MP Cilliers Brink’s 101 votes during the election in council on February 28.
“The ANC Greater Tshwane Region believes the city manager acted in haste, because both the Municipal Systems Act and the code of conduct for councillors explain the cause of action on the removal of a councillor.”
Matjila called on Mettler to follow local government statutes by calling on the council to investigate the matter concerning Makwarela.
“Once the investigation has been concluded, the MEC for Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs must be given the report for further action – if any is required.
“We have no reason to suspect at first glance the actions of the city manager who wrote to the IEC – which has no jurisdiction over the removal of a councillor – but bemoan him acting ultra vires (exercising a power he doesn’t have) on this matter,” he said.
EFF regional leader Obakeng Ramabodu accused the DA of double standards. “For the DA it is acceptable to have Makwarela as a Speaker under the alleged insolvency, but not as mayor.
“This basically means decisions by Dr Makwarela as Speaker are invalid, including the appointment of Johann Mettler as municipal manager.”
He shared the ANC’s sentiment that allegations levelled against Makwarela ought to be attended to by council. “It is critical that the municipal manager desist from undermining the authority of the council as the case has been included in the matter of the former chief financial officer (Umar Banda). The municipal manager must advance evidence to support these allegations.
“Verification with the IEC Gauteng commissioner Thabo Masemola’s office indicates that Dr Makwarela is still a councillor in the City of Tshwane.”
“The executive mayor should proceed with his work, including the consolidation of his mayoral committee. This instability created by the multiparty puts the municipality in danger of placement under administration by the Gauteng provincial government.”
DA’s councillor Jacqui Uys welcomed the decision by Mettler to declare a vacancy for the seat held by Cope’s sole councillor Makwarela.
“This follows councillor Makwarela’s failure to produce evidence that he is not an unrehabilitated insolvent, and thus ineligible to hold office as a councillor in terms of the Constitution.”
Uys said the DA was unable to find evidence of a rehabilitation order “and so we wrote to the city manager and the IEC to ask that councillor Makwarela be requested to produce it”.
She said Makwarela’s failure to disclose his insolvency status meant he misled the public by accepting nomination as Speaker of the council and later as mayor of Tshwane.
“The City must elect a new mayor as soon as possible … parties in the council should place the City’s stability above self-interested political games and schemes.”