Pretoria - The embattled City of Tshwane is in limbo after an external legal opinion sought by the metro indicated that the first immediate resignation letter by mayor Randall Williams was valid.
Williams unexpectedly resigned last week, notifying council Speaker Dr Murunwa Makwarela that he called it quits with effect from midnight of February 13.
There was, however, a change of heart on Williams’s part when he amended his resignation date to February 28, causing confusion as to which letter would be accepted as being valid.
As a result of the conundrum, the EFF stormed the mayor’s office on Thursday, physically removing some members of the mayoral committee and political support staff, claiming their term had ended when the mayor resigned.
At Tshwane House, Makwarela announced that a new executive mayor would have to be elected as soon as possible.
He said Williams’s resignation meant that the mayoral committee was dissolved with effect from midnight of February 13, in terms of Section 60(5) of the Structures Act.
He said the Municipal Structures Act stipulated that should the mayor resign in the middle of his term the election for his or her successor must take place “as soon as necessary”.
“I have indicated that it is necessary that we stabilise government. It is necessary that we provide political leadership in the city. We have to do that as soon as possible so that we are not in limbo for a very long time.”
He did not announce a date for the mayor’s election, saying it would be announced in due course after consultation with other parties.
Last week, Makwarela said he had received legal advice that he had seven days to consider Williams’s resignation letters.
He was told that because of the amendment, which happened within seven days, he cold go ahead and consider the second letter.
However, he said yesterday that the City went for independent legal advice, which said the speaker ought to consider the first one.
On Monday, acting mayor and Finance MMC Peter Sutton told all MMCs about the implication of a legal opinion, saying in written correspondence: “If you are in the official vehicles you will please need to make your way home or release the vehicle and drivers. Please also ask your staff to clear out your office.”
Makwarela said council meeting scheduled for Thursday would be postponed “as the focus will now have to shift to the convening (of a) council meeting to elect a new mayor. The date for the election of the new executive mayor is to be determined by the Speaker of council”.
The SA Municipal Workers Union in Tshwane said it was vindicated after it advised Williams to vacate office and that Makwarela should recognise the first resignation letter.
“In trying to ensure that there is stability in the municipality, Samwu calls on the speaker to convene a council meeting within 14 days.
“Further to that we call on all political parties represented in council to put aside their political differences and elect a mayor who cares for service delivery and workers alike. The City has been through rough times since 2020, political parties need to focus their energies on revitalising the City to its former glory,” the union said in a statement.
EFF regional leader Obakeng Ramabodu said his party was delighted that the second letter submitted by Williams postponing his resignation was deemed inconsistent with the law.
“Tshwane EFF had already advised the speaker that with the first letter of resignation, Randall Williams and his mayoral committee were effectively no longer government in Tshwane,” he said.
The ANC in Tshwane also said it had been “vindicated by a legal opinion sought by the governing coalition led by the DA confirming that the initial resignation letter submitted by Alderman Randall Williams is legally in effect”.