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Tshwane multi-party coalition partners threaten to boycott meeting to elect council speaker

DA caucus leader Cilliers Brink. Picture: Jacques Naude/African News Agency (ANA)

DA caucus leader Cilliers Brink. Picture: Jacques Naude/African News Agency (ANA)

Published Mar 6, 2023


Pretoria - Councillors aligned to multi-party coalition partners in the City of Tshwane will not attend today’s special meeting for electing a council speaker owing to the fact that it would be “unlawfully” convened.

Their absence from today’s council sitting was made known in a letter penned by DA caucus leader Cilliers Brink to city manager Johann Mettler.

In the letter, seen by the Pretoria News, Mettler is accused of issuing an instruction to host a council meeting and, therefore, flouting a council resolution dictating that an acting speaker must preside over council meetings in the speaker’s absence.

The speaker’s position became vacant last Tuesday after Cope councillor Dr Murunwa Makwarela resigned with immediate effect after he was elected as the new mayor to succeed the DA’s Randall Williams.

Makwarela, who was backed by the EFF and ANC, clinched 112 votes while Cilliers, with the support of the multi-party coalition block, netted 101.

The coalition partners, which collectively have 108 council seats, were concerned that some of their councillors betrayed them by voting with the new mayor instead of Cilliers, their preferred mayoral candidate.

The Pretoria News understands that both ActionSA and the DA had undertaken to force their councillors to undergo lie detector tests with a view to identify those who might have voted against their parties’ mandate.

Regarding today’s council sitting, Brink cited a council resolution of February 7, 2023, to elect an acting speaker in terms of Section 41 of the Local Government: Municipal Structures Act, 1998, as a reason why the onus to convene a council sitting didn’t rest with the city manager.

“If the speaker of a municipal council is absent or not available to perform the functions of speaker, or during a vacancy, the council must elect another councillor to act as speaker,” Brink said.

He mentioned that Mettler acknowledged the resolution passed on the position of acting speaker during a council meeting held on February 21, 2023.

“It is the legal competency of acting speaker (Ziyanda) Zwane (of the IFP), and not the city manager or any other official or office bearer of the CoT, to call a meeting of the municipal council.

“The acting speaker has, to the best of our knowledge, not been given the opportunity by officials of the CoT to exercise this competency.

“The notice calling a meeting for Monday, March 6, 2023,is therefore invalid, and stands to be withdrawn,” he said.

He said if Mettler would fail to withdraw a meeting “any decision taken at such an unlawfully arranged meeting of the municipal council will also be unlawful and invalid”.

He said the councillors of the DA, ActionSA, FF Plus, ACDP, and IFP won’t attend such a meeting given that it would be unlawful.

Despite threats by coalition members to stay away from the meeting, the speaker’s office was on Friday adamant that it would go ahead.

A media statement issued by the speaker’s office said the City would, in terms of Section 36 of the Local Government: Municipal Structures Act, 1998 (Act 117 of 1998), elect the speaker of council today during a council meeting at Tshwane House.

Pretoria News