Pretoria - The resignation of DA ward councillor Francois Bekker ahead of the tabling of a motion of no confidence proposed by the multiparty coalition against Speaker Mncedi Ndzwanana was cited as one of the reasons for disallowing the motion.
This took place during yesterday’s special council meeting at Tshwane House, where Ndzwanana called into question the legality of Bekker’s signature in the petition from the coalition’s 108 councillors who lobbied him to convene the meeting.
“Since the petition and motion were received, there has been the resignation of councillor Bekker, and a vacancy has been declared. And there is a question about the validity of the standing of his signature on the petition,” he said.
Council rules, he said, provided that at least 108 councillors must sign a petition calling for a sitting.
In light of Bekker’s departure, the of petitioners had gone down to 107. Ndzwanana said the petition thus did not meet the minimum threshold.
He also shot down the motion on the grounds that it advanced argument, expressed opinion or contained unnecessary incriminating and improper suggestions.
His verdict was made after city manager Johann Mettler had written to the Gauteng provincial officer of the Electoral Commission of SA, informing him of the declaration of Bekker’s vacancy.
The vacancy was declared despite last week’s attempt by Bekker to withdraw his resignation, but the City refused to allow him to do so.
Bekker conceded that he was persuaded by the multiparty coalition to withdraw his resignation.
The multiparty coalition partners had wanted Bekker to change his mind because they were concerned that his absence might cost them a vote to oust Ndzwanana.
ActionSA Gauteng chairperson Funzi Ngobeni described Ndzwanana’s ruling as “illegal and nonsensical”, saying the party would consult with its legal team “on our options on how we can reverse this”.
“You can’t rule out a petition based on someone who has resigned. When that person was still a councillor, he signed that petition. Imagine a situation where he has to rule out everything because someone has passed away, and we can’t do this because he is no longer there. It doesn’t make legal sense.”
He said his party, which vied for the speaker’s position, was still hopeful that it would clinch the seat after it recently lost to Ndzwanana.
Yesterday’s meeting was hosted a day after the multiparty coalition's failed court bid in the Gauteng High Court, Pretoria, seeking an order on Ndzwanana’s recusal in the motion about him. The court dismissed the application with costs.
The multiparty caucus also wanted an order against the EFF in Tshwane to prevent possible disruption after the party’s regional leader Obakeng Ramabodu threatened to revolt against mayor Cilliers Brink should Ndzwanana be removed.
Ramabodu said: “The political phrase as pronounced, ‘When you touch our speaker, we deal with you’ has nothing to do with acts of violence but is an expression of disapproval against hindering the speaker from doing his work.”