Op­po­si­tion par­ties in bid to con­trol Tlokwe

CityPress - - News - SETUMO STONE setumo.stone@city­press.co.za

Op­po­si­tion par­ties in Tlokwe, North West, have moved to take con­trol of the mu­nic­i­pal­ity af­ter seven ANC wards were de­clared va­cant by the Con­sti­tu­tional Court.

The speaker of Tlokwe’s lo­cal mu­nic­i­pal­ity, Barei Se­gotso, has been given un­til Wed­nes­day to re­spond favourably to a re­quest by op­po­si­tion coun­cil­lors for a spe­cial coun­cil sit­ting or face le­gal ac­tion in her per­sonal ca­pac­ity.

This is ac­cord­ing to a let­ter op­po­si­tion coun­cil­lors wrote to Se­gotso on De­cem­ber 18, in which they re­quested a coun­cil sit­ting on Jan­uary 26 to con­sider Se­gotso’s re­moval from of­fice as well as the re­moval of ANC mayor Khotso Khu­malo and his may­oral com­mit­tee.

The ef­fect of the Con­sti­tu­tional Court rul­ing in Novem­ber, in which the seven by-elec­tions won by the ANC in 2013 were nul­li­fied on the grounds that the process was not free and fair, is that the op­po­si­tion en­joys a ma­jor­ity in the Tlokwe coun­cil.

At the mo­ment, the com­bined op­po­si­tion – the DA, Free­dom Front Plus, Congress of the Peo­ple and an in­de­pen­dent – have a ma­jor­ity of 23 against the ANC’s 22 coun­cil­lors.

The Mu­nic­i­pal Struc­tures Act pro­vides that when “a ma­jor­ity of coun­cil­lors re­quest the speaker, in writ­ing, to con­vene a coun­cil meet­ing, the speaker must con­vene a meet­ing at a time set out in the re­quest”.

A new date for the re­take of the nul­li­fied by­elec­tions has been set for Fe­bru­ary 24.

The ini­tial re­quest by the 23 op­po­si­tion coun­cil­lors on De­cem­ber 7 to have the spe­cial meet­ing set for De­cem­ber 22 was scup­pered by Se­gotso, who said their pe­ti­tion was non­com­pli­ant in that those who signed did not con­sti­tute the ma­jor­ity of coun­cil. “No pur­pose would be served in ac­tu­ally con­ven­ing the coun­cil meet­ing, for the sim­ple rea­son that 23 coun­cil­lors would not meet the quo­rum re­quire­ment in terms of [the law],” said Se­gotso in one of her re­sponses.

She said the in­ten­tion to re­move ANC coun­cil­lors from their posts was not in the in­ter­est of ser­vice de­liv­ery to the com­mu­nity. She said ANC coun­cil­lors would also not at­tend the pro­posed meet­ing to have their “cho­sen lead­ers” re­moved from their re­spec­tive po­si­tions. She dis­missed other items listed in the pro­posed agenda as a smoke­screen, in­clud­ing the mat­ter on the amal­ga­ma­tion of Tlokwe and Ven­ters­dorp, which she de­scribed as “a done deal” un­less a court or­dered a re­view.

“I firmly be­lieve that the re­quest for a coun­cil meet­ing to be held on De­cem­ber 22 2015 is pre­med­i­tated for the sole pur­pose of re­mov­ing the ex­ec­u­tive mayor, the speaker and the may­oral com­mit­tee,” said Se­gotso.

The op­po­si­tion coun­cil­lors sub­se­quently wrote to act­ing North West lo­cal gov­ern­ment and hu­man set­tle­ments MEC Wendy Nel­son to lodge a com­plaint against Se­gotso. They ac­cused her of abus­ing her pow­ers by re­fus­ing to grant the coun­cil meet­ing.

They said she was act­ing out of “po­lit­i­cal ex­pe­di­ency and the fur­ther­ance of party po­lit­i­cal in­ter­ests”.

Nel­son had un­til De­cem­ber 18 to re­spond. How­ever, DA coun­cil­lor Hans Jurie Mool­man said there had been no feed­back from the MEC.

Mool­man said the ini­tial re­quest that had been made on De­cem­ber 7 was off the ta­ble and they were an­tic­i­pat­ing a re­sponse from Se­gotso by Wed­nes­day.

Khu­malo’s spokesper­son, Vic­tor Boqo, said “the op­po­si­tion was just play­ing pol­i­tics in an at­tempt to take over Tlokwe”.

Boqo said the is­sues the op­po­si­tion raised needed to wait for the or­di­nary coun­cil meet­ing, which was sched­uled for the end of Fe­bru­ary.

Se­gotso said coun­cil closed on Novem­ber 26 and the rules did not al­low for any meet­ings dur­ing the month of De­cem­ber. She said a meet­ing could not be called willy-nilly just be­cause the op­po­si­tion had won a case in court.

“I can­not call a meet­ing any time they want to,” she said.

STAND­ING FIRM The speaker of Tlokwe’s lo­cal mu­nic­i­pal­ity, Barei Se­gotso

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