Battles for control over two municipalities ahead of local government elections
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JUST months before the local government elections power struggles and musical chairs in appointments at the Kannaland and Beaufort West municipalities continue.
In a period of a month, contestation over the legitimacy of votes of no confidence involving DA speakers in municipal councils that are 300 km apart but bear similarities. These include disputes over the legalities but also how it resulted in the DA and ANC finding themselves in much-detested ‘working relationships’ yet again.
First, in Kannaland on Wednesday a DA motion saw two ICOSA councillors booted out in motions supported by the ANC.
This resulted in speaker Werner Meshoa removed as speaker and replaced by the person he had succeeded, the DA’s Aletta Theron.
Meshoa’s removal comes weeks after he was found guilty of fraud and obstruction of justice over R4 000 travel claims for a trip he reportedly never took. He is due for sentencing on March 30.
The motion against councillor Hyrin Ruiters resulted in him losing his seat as Kannaland’s representative at the Garden Route District Municipality, a seat now taken up by the DA’s Joslyn Johnson.
The ANC’s Lerumo Kalako promised disciplinary action against the town’s mayor, Magdaleen Barry and her deputy, Phillipus Antonie. However, control over the karoo towns has been rocked by scandal before in 2017. A year after the ANC and DA went into a coalition there were talks of recalling both members but this did not result in their ultimate removal.
“We will visit Kannaland to meet with both our members and the broader community about what needs to be done given the current situation,” said Kalako.
Now leaders in ICOSA claim that despite a coalition agreement on paper, the ANC and DA continue to work hand in hand with this latest incident being a prime example.
“The meeting was held by two ANC and two DA councillors without the speaker and other ICOSA councillors, it was an illegal meeting and whatever agreements came from it are also illegal,” said the party’s Jeffrey Donson.
Theron told Weekend Argus working with the ANC was the only way to restore the council given the path ICOSA wanted to take.
“When our working agreement ended in November, and I was voted out. The problems of old began to re-emerge. There is no way that any party can work with ICOSA which has a track record of maladministration, driving the municipality into debt. The hawks are still investigating this municipality,” she said.
“Work needs to be done to stabilise the municipality which has over the last four months regressed with irregular appointments made. We took a decision for the good of the community, there was just no other way.”
In Beaufort West the fight over the legitimacy of the appointment of the DA’s Euna Wentzel as the municipality’s representative to the Central Karoo District Municipality has ended with the DA laying charges against the town’s mayor, Noel Constable and the municipality’s speaker, Mkhululi Hangana.
Wentzel’s nomination to the municipality came in February when the DA’s Derrick Welgemoed was elected speaker to replace the ANC’s councillor who had been recalled.
The DA’s Daylin Mitchell said Wentzel would have represented his party’s third seat that they reclaimed from the KDF after their coalition collapsed in 2018 when the party broke ties and joined forces with the ANC.
“At a council meeting in the CKDM (on Friday), the Speaker grossly disregarded the basic principles of our democracy by allowing Councillor Constable to attend the council meeting of which he is not a member,” said Mitchell.
“In a letter to the DA Chief Whip on March 3, the ANC speaker asserts that Councillor Wentzel is not a legitimate member of the District Council. However, the speaker’s claim was yesterday refuted by a legal firm based in Cape Town, in which it is proven that Councillor Wentzel is acknowledged by the IEC as an elected member to the CKDM council.”
Constable told Weekend Argus he welcomes the charges brought against him so that this matter can be sorted once and for all.
“This is not the first time the DA has tried to take my seat in the district municipality, they tried this in 2018 but the IEC ruled that the seat belonged to Karoo Democratic Force (KDF) and unless I resign they cannot send their own councillor to replace me while I’m still there,” he said.
“But let them lay charges, the court can decide on this because they want to make up their own rules to suit them just so that they can take control of the district municipality before the elections. They have tried to bring motions but they fail because they don’t have the numbers needed for it to pass.”