South Africa

MUNICIPAL MAYHEM

Tshwane Speaker Mncedi Ndzwanana ‘hopelessly conflicted,’ ActionSA tells high court

Tshwane Speaker Mncedi Ndzwanana ‘hopelessly conflicted,’ ActionSA tells high court
Tshwane Speaker Mncedi Ndzwanana. (Photo: Twitter)

ActionSA wants the Gauteng Division of the High Court in Pretoria to order Tshwane Speaker Mncedi Ndzwanana to recuse himself from no-confidence votes against him, saying he is ‘hopelessly conflicted’.

After two unsuccessful attempts in the past three months to remove Tshwane council Speaker Mncedi Ndzwanana through motions of no confidence, ActionSA has approached the Gauteng Division of the High Court in Pretoria.

In papers filed recently, the party argues that Ndzwanana, from the African Transformation Movement (ATM), abused his powers by unlawfully inhibiting the council from considering motions of no confidence against him. 

ActionSA argues that Ndzwanana refused to recuse himself as Speaker in circumstances where he was “hopelessly conflicted”, including when he presided over two council meetings aimed at removing him, saying it would have been impossible for him to be impartial.    

The ATM councillor clinched the powerful position in March 2023 with the assistance of the ANC and EFF. During the vote, 69 ballots cast by DA councillors were deemed invalid by the Electoral Commission after party members wrote numbers instead of an X on their ballot papers.  

Read more in Daily Maverick: Fists, foul language and legal threats fly in Tshwane council after dramatic vote for speaker 

The first council meeting request aimed at removing Ndzwanana came on 22 March after 108 opposition councillors representing the multiparty coalition petitioned the Speaker in terms of section 29(1) of the Municipal Structures Act to hold a special council meeting to consider Ndzwanana’s removal. He allegedly did not respond to the request.

“Despite his clear obligation under section 29(1) of the Structures Act to convene the meeting at the time set out in the request, Ndzwanana neither responded nor adhered to the first section 29(1) request,” said ActionSA.

There was yet another attempt to oust Ndzwanana in April, which he dismissed on the grounds that it was “frivolous”. 

For this reason and other incidents mentioned in the papers, ActionSA argued that Ndzwanana negligently failed to act in accordance with his constitutional and statutory duties. 

“Ndzwanana’s refusal to recuse himself from presiding over the motion of no confidence undermined the cornerstone principle of our constitutional democracy that public officials, like the Speaker, are bound to discharge their constitutional and statutory powers impartially.  

“Nothing is more likely to impair confidence in the council, whether on the part of councillors or the residents of Tshwane, than actual bias or the appearance of bias in the exercise by the Speaker of his powers.”

Ndzwanana has enjoyed the support of the Red Berets whenever threats of motion of no confidence are made. In one instance, the EFF’s councillor and regional leader Obakeng Ramabodu said, “If you are going to start politics of removing the Speaker, you must know that you are never going to find peace.”

ActionSA also wants the court to review and set aside Ndzwanana’s “impugned” decisions. It wants the court to give an order declaring that “the impugned decisions are unconstitutional and invalid in their entirety”. 

It has asked the court to order a special council meeting two business days from the date of the court’s order, should the court rule in its favour, and for Ndzwanana to be prohibited from chairing, interfering, directly or indirectly, with the functioning of the council meeting, which it says should be run by the city manager.

“If the city manager is not available, a person designated by the [provincial] MEC must preside over the election of an acting Speaker at the special council meeting, and the acting Speaker elected at the special council meeting must take all reasonable steps to ensure that the motion of no confidence in the Speaker is considered and decided by council during the meeting.”

Without going into detail, ActionSA alleges that the decisions to disallow the motion against Ndzwanana have negatively affected the city’s more than 2.5 million residents.

Read more in Daily Maverick: Trouble with a capital T – Jacaranda City municipality is wilting under bad finances and scandal

“Ndzwanana’s unlawful conduct poses a grave threat to the rule of law and the democratic functioning and constitutional autonomy of the council and the City of Tshwane.

“Furthermore, the disruptions caused by Ndzwanana’s unlawful conduct have impeded the council from conducting its critical business and have severely harmed the interests of the residents of the City of Tshwane.”   

ActionSA also wants Ndzwanana to be ordered to pay its legal costs in his personal capacity if he opposes the application.

“When Ndzwanana made the impugned decisions, he was fully aware that it was unlawful for him to preside over the motion of no confidence in him as the Speaker and attempt to abolish the council’s right under section 40 of the Constitution to remove him from office,” the party said.

Attempts to reach Ndzwanana for comment on Monday and again on Tuesday morning were unsuccessful. DM

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  • Cheryl Siewierski says:

    Wait up, aside from the ongoing politricking here, why would 69 DA members write numbers on their ballots instead of marking them with an ‘x’? What were they trying to do?

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