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Not without a fight – ousted Mpho Phalatse turns to court to win back Joburg mayoral seat

Not without a fight – ousted Mpho Phalatse turns to court to win back Joburg mayoral seat
City of Johannesburg Chair of Chairs and lone Cope councillor Colleen Makhubele (left) and ousted mayor Mpho Phalatse. (Photos: Gallo Images / Luba Lesolle // Gallo Images / Sharon Seretlo)

Ousted Johannesburg mayor Mpho Phalatse has filed papers at the Johannesburg High Court where she highlights the irregularities with the programming meeting which approved the motion against her, the council sitting of 30 September 2022 and the election of Dada Morero as the new mayor.

The DA is not willing to simply throw in the towel on governing in the City of Joburg as Mpho Phalatse heads to court in a bid to be reinstated as mayor.

In her founding affidavit, Phalatse says she was “unlawfully removed” from the position, and believes the decision to hold the council meeting was “patently unlawful”. 

“The speaker had the power to call an extraordinary meeting, but if the meeting was going to include a motion of no confidence in the executive mayor, she was supposed to afford councillors reasonable notice of the meeting. Sixteen hours was self-evidently not reasonable notice when the motion had been pending for weeks. The speaker was also not permitted to act for an ulterior motive. She had to call the meeting, and schedule the motion of no confidence in the interest of the city. Yet she acted with extreme haste solely to advance her own political interest,” the document reads. 

She says the decision to place the motion on the agenda was unlawful because the programming meeting did not meet the quorum, with six councillors present instead of seven. 

Phalatse’s affidavit states that the council meeting in which she was ousted was unlawful because DA members were not allowed to participate and had not signed the attendance register. 

“The speaker wrongfully refused to grant the DA a caucus break to which it was entitled under the council rules. The speaker did not allow any debate on the motion of no confidence. She simply called for the motion to be adopted, seconded and then voted on,” it says. 

It further states that the election of ANC caucus leader Dada Morero was illegal because there had been no lawful vacancy.  

Phalatse wants to set aside speaker Colleen Makhubele’s decision to hold an extraordinary council meeting, and the programming meeting’s decision to place the motion against her on the agenda. She is urging the courts to declare the adoption of the motion and Morero’s appointment invalid.

This comes after Phalatse’s bid to have the sitting interdicted was struck off the roll by the Johannesburg High Court on Friday. The court’s reasoning was that Phalatse had already been ousted before the matter could be heard virtually.

Dada Morero. (Photo: Shiraaz Mohamed)

Multiparty coalition collapse

The multiparty coalition in the City of Joburg completely collapsed after Phalatse was removed as mayor. The coalition consisted of the DA, ActionSA, the IFP, the Freedom Front Plus, the Patriotic Alliance (PA), the ACDP, Cope, the United Independent Movement and the African Transformation Movement. Phalatse was ousted by 139 councillors on Friday, 30 September 2022 and Morero was installed as executive mayor. 

ActionSA had led the charge to have an IFP member elected as speaker and was supported by all other coalition partners except the DA. The DA rejected the proposal and wanted its candidate, Alex Christians, to replace Vasco da Gama. 

This did not sit well with the other parties and led to the PA abandoning the coalition and voting with the ANC, the EFF and minority parties to install Cope’s Colleen Makhubele

The PA was triggered by the letter the coalition technical task team had received from DA Federal Council chairperson Helen Zille and her deputy, Thomas Walters, in which she made it categorically clear that the DA would not be supporting the reconfiguration of the coalition. Another spanner in the works came in the form of DA Gauteng leader Solly Msimanga’s opinion piece in which he particularly looks at the state of coalitions.

Read in Daily Maverick: “DA coalition partner says Da Gama had to go to balance City of Joburg power dynamics

Speaking to Daily Maverick, the Freedom Front Plus’ Corné Mulder backed the DA, saying that they disagree with allegations that it has been arrogant and failed to treat coalition partners fairly. 

“A coalition is never voluntary, nobody wants to be in a coalition. I will not accept that the DA was simply arrogant, it is not true. The fact of the matter is there were differences throughout, and some parties felt that the DA should be more accommodative. I am not convinced that any of those single issues in the end caused the problem. We must draw a distinction that one thing that happened prior to the motion is when the PA and Colleen were in a folly since day one,” he said. 

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“At one point the PA decided to go with the ANC but ActionSA stayed and they voted loyally. But it is difficult to say this one incident caused this; we need to ask whether the PA was already in negotiations and keeping their options open with the ANC or were they triggered by any of the issues.”

Mulder explained what transpired before the PA abandoned the coalition:

“The other members of the coalition were in favour of us puting the IFP in that position because we thought it would be in the best interest of stabilising the coalition. The DA did not agree with that and when it became clear that they would not do that, we all had to compromise and accepted that in the election of 28 September 2022 we will support the DA’s candidate, which all the parties did. 

Freedom Front Plus leader Corné Mulder. (Photo: Gallo Images / Jeffrey Abrahams)

“So, although some of us thought it should be done differently, we stuck to the agreement. We all knew at some later stage we could reopen the issue. Only two coalition parties did not follow suit, namely Cope and PA.”

At a press briefing on Monday, ActionSA’s Michael Beaumont said it was sinister that the DA rejected the proposal for the IFP to occupy the speaker position, seeing that it would not have been the first time the coalition had been reconfigured.

“ActionSA has watched while we have been labelled as the people who have collapsed this coalition government, and this has been in the allegations made by the leader of the DA [John Steenhuisen] and many of his colleagues. This is despite the fact that ActionSA has, at every turn, voted with the coalition, even when we were unhappy with the approach taken,” he said. DM


Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Rory Macnamara says:

    Here we go again! Politics over the citizens of JoBurg. the new mayor talks rubbish as the party he represent screwed up JoBurg initially. this will not end well. lack of Water, lack of electricity, lack of good governance and genrally lack of pretty well everything. ANC and politicians – hang your heads in shame.

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