South Africa


Mangaung community pressure group and ANC scramble to unseat DA council speaker

Mangaung community pressure group and ANC scramble to unseat DA council speaker
Photo: EPA / Nic Bothma

Community pressure group, the Mangaung Service Delivery Forum, has filed an urgent application in the Free State High Court to set aside the election of the DA speaker of the Mangaung metro council. The court papers were filed days after the ANC regional leadership indicated they were consulting lawyers with a view to contesting the legality of the council sitting during which DA councillor Maryke Davies was elected speaker.

The MSDF cites eight respondents in its application, set to be heard on Thursday 20 April: Maryke Davies; Mangaung Municipality; the metro council; acting municipal manager Tebogo Motlashuping; Minister of Cooperative Governance, Thembi Nkadimeng; Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana; Free State Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs MEC Moses Makume and Free State Finance MEC Gadija Brown.

The election of an opposition councillor into what was meant to be a key ANC position prompted the expulsion of ANC members – including the deputy mayor and former speaker – from the party.

Read more in Daily Maverick: Mangaung metro deputy mayor and councillors swiftly axed

In its court application, the MSDF asks that – pending the finalisation of its case – Motlashuping and Davies be restrained from executing any of their duties as acting municipal manager and speaker respectively. 

It further asks that a council resolution (taken on 6 March) to extend Motlashuping’s appointment and any decision or action taken since (by him in this capacity) be reviewed or set aside. This includes the calling of an urgent council meeting during which Davies was elected.

In a supporting affidavit, the MSDF’s General Secretary, Mpho Mojanaga, says Motlashuping’s appointment as acting municipal manager lapsed on 30 November 2022 – or alternatively on 7 February 2023 – but he “purports to continue to execute functions as the acting MM”. He says the sitting of the council, during which Davies was elected, was thus illegally convened.

Mojanaga also says the Municipal Systems Act prohibits the same person from holding the acting municipal manager position for longer than three months.

In response to questions from Daily Maverick, Davies said her party is getting a legal opinion as “the ANC do not have their facts straight”.

In an official letter by former speaker Stefani Lockman-Naidoo, addressed to the deputy speaker, she said a report on the extension of the seconded interim management team was considered and approved during a council meeting on 6 March.

The letter states that the council approved the extension period of the acting municipal manager until 30 April and the acting heads of department until June 2023.

According to Lockman-Naidoo, the council further resolved that the “deputy mayor be mandated to seek concurrence from the Ministers of CoGTA and Finance as well as the Free State MEC of CoGTA for the appointment of internal staff in the position of Acting Municipal Manager and heads of departments, thus rescinding the resolution”.

Davies said that “with the MEC (Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs) sending a presiding officer to the meeting, he condoned the calling of the meeting (during which she was elected as speaker). She said notice for a council meeting to elect the metro’s executive mayor is scheduled for Wednesday 12 April.

The MSDF, however, sent a lawyers’ letter requesting the municipality and its council to withdraw the notice for Wednesday’s meeting pending its urgent court application. 

The letter indicates that the MSDF expects a withdrawal in writing otherwise they “will have no alternative than to approach the court on an urgent basis prior to the intended meeting”. 

Mojanaga said they expect to hear from the municipality by Tuesday. DM


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