Pretoria - The City of Tshwane’s legal services will investigate the newly-elected mayor Dr Murunwa Makwarela’s solvency rehabilitation certificate after its authenticity came into question following its submission to city manager Johann Mettler on Thursday.
Makwarela furnished Mettler with the certificate in order to be reinstated as mayor after he was removed from office on Tuesday.
Mettler announced that Makwarela was disqualified as a councillor after it surfaced that in 2016 the Gauteng High Court, Pretoria declared him insolvent.
In terms of Section 158 (1) of the Constitution he was ineligible to hold a public office as a councillor because of his insolvency status.
He was reinstated as mayor after he submitted a certificate of solvency rehabilitation, which immediately came under scrutiny from the Tshwane multiparty coalition, casting doubt on its validity.
Coalition partners the DA, ActionSA, FF+, ACDP, and IFP were against Makwarela’s ascension to power after him and his political party Cope broke ranks with them by accepting a nomination to be elected Tshwane mayor on February 28.
Makwarela was backed by EFF and the ANC and won against the coalition's preferred candidate, former DA MP Cilliers Brink.
Tshwane multiparty coalition partners indicated that they would take legal steps to verify the validity of Makwarela’s clearance certificate.
Coalition spokesperson Dr Corné Mulder reportedly said the matter might end up in the high court.
He suggested that the city manager “can take this alleged court order to the registrar of that division and there are means for them to immediately identify whether this is fake or real”.
“We can take it to the municipal manager, and if the manager realises there is a big problem there then it is not necessary. If it is refused, saying Makwarela is legitimate then we will approach the high court to have this set aside,” Mulder said.
It is suspected that questions regarding the certificate’s validity stemmed from its heading, which referred to the High Court of South Africa, Gauteng Local Division, Pretoria as the “North Court of South Africa Gauteng Division Pretoria”.
Municipal spokesperson Selby Bokaba yesterday said: “I wish to confirm that the city manager Mr Johann Mettler has requested legal services to investigate certain aspects around the rehabilitation notice that was presented to him by councillor Murunwa Makwarela yesterday. This was done as a consequence of various issues that were brought to his attention during the course of yesterday.”
On Tuesday, Mettler sent a communique to the Gauteng provincial electoral officer, informing him of a casual vacancy which had occurred at the city following the disqualification of Cope's PR councillor, Makwarela.
The City said the disqualification was 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, the disqualification was also in terms of Schedule 1 Section 19 (c) (d) of the Municipal Structures Act (Act 117 of 1998).
In the wake of his disqualification Makwarela threatened to take legal action against Mettler should he fail to retract a media statement regarding a decision to remove him as councillor.
Makwarela, however, subsequently turned the tables on his political rivals when he produced a certificate of solvency rehabilitation to prove he was not an unrehabilitated insolvent and was eligible to occupy a public office.