Pretoria - The City of Tshwane is yet again leaderless after the newly-elected mayor Dr Murunwa Makwarela was disqualified as a councillor following news that he was declared insolvent by a court of law in 2016.
However, Makwarela told the Pretoria News that he won’t back down but he would immediately approach the Gauteng High Court, Pretoria to interdict the announcement of his sudden exit made by City Manager Johann Mettler.
“We are interdicting it. The city manager is trying to cover himself,” he said.
He said the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) of SA's process which eventually saw him ushered in as Cope’s sole councillor in Tshwane was properly followed.
“Our lawyers had written to him that the process was properly followed but he didn’t consider that,” Makwarela said.
Mettler announced that he has written to the IEC's Gauteng provincial officer, informing him of a casual vacancy after Makwarela’s disqualification as a Cope proportional representative (PR) councillor.
Makwarela was catapulted into the mayor’s position on February 28, 2023 after he surprisingly broke ranks with multiparty coalition partners and sided with the ANC and EFF who backed him for the position.
The multiparty coalition partners, which included Cope, DA, ActionSA, FF-Plus, ACDP and IFP were in agreement to elect former DA MP Cilliers Brink as a mayor.
They were, however, shocked when Makwarela accepted a nomination for mayor, resulting in winning by 112 votes while Brink got 101.
Municipal spokesperson Selby Bokaba said: “The disqualification is in terms of Section 158 (1) (c) of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996, also read with Section 47(1) (c) of the Constitution. Furthermore, this disqualification is also in terms of Schedule 1 Section 19 (c) (d) of the Municipal Structures Act (Act 117 of 1998). Item 18 of part 3 of Schedule 1, of the Local Government Structures Act (Act 117 of 1998), stipulates that if a councillor elected from a party list ceases to hold office, the chief electoral officer of the IEC must declare in writing the person whose name is at the top of the applicable party list to be elected in the vacancy.”
He said the vacancy must be filled within 14 days after a 21-day period.
Recent media reports suggested that due to his insolvency’s status Makwarela must have been barred by the Constitution from holding public office.
The DA in Tshwane has called on Makwarela, who it labelled a “new ANC-EFF puppet mayor” to come clean on his insolvency status before he makes any decisions of consequence, including the appointment of a mayoral committee.
The party said: “Last week the DA was informed by a member of the public that Makwarela had been sequestrated in the Gauteng High Court, Pretoria in 2016.”
The DA acknowledged that although insolvency was itself not a scandal, an unrehabilitated insolvent was barred by the Constitution from holding public office.
“Such a person is also not permitted to serve in any other role that requires fiduciary responsibilities, such as a trustee or a director of a company. This provision exists for good reason: how can we entrust the governance of a city or any other corporate entity to a person who has no control of his own financial affairs?,” the party said.
The DA wrote to Mettler, asking him to establish whether Makwarela had obtained a rehabilitation order.
The party also wanted Mettler to find out whether the rehabilitation order had been obtained prior to Makwarela’s election as a councillor on November 1, 2021.
“We are also writing to the IEC to ask that they conduct their own investigation into the matter. It is important to note that Makwarela would have been required to complete an IEC Annexure 4 return prior to his election as a councillor,” the party said.
The form, according to the DA, includes a declaration that the candidate was “not disqualified for standing for elections in terms of the Constitution or any applicable legislation”.
“The residents of Tshwane are tired of the political games played by the ANC and the EFF to render the city ungovernable.
“The last thing they now need is a mayor who cannot assume responsibilities for the office to which he has been elected, and so the DA calls on Makwarela to be honest with the public,” the party said.