Opposition parties in bid to control Tlokwe
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