The ANC has again withdrawn court action against the DA, this time against the speaker of Tshwane council Katlego Mathebe and the chief whip of council, Councillor Christo Van Den Heever.
In a statement on Friday, the DA said they were not surprised, since the matter was always “going to be thrown out” of court.
The withdrawal came hours after the ANC served an urgent legal application against the DA and was the second such withdrawal in recent weeks.
The Gauteng Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs MEC Lebogang Maile also withdrew his case against the speaker after being advised his case’s prospects were poor.
At the end of January, the ANC in Pretoria announced it would be heading to court to force Mathebe to implement the law in the council and not her own “incorrect interpretation” regarding a request to rescind a council resolution.
The ANC’s decision to approach the courts for relief followed a ruling Mathebe had made during the first ordinary sitting of the Tshwane council of the year.
Its chief whip, Aaron Maluleka, submitted a request to rescind a 2017 council resolution that saw the appointment of an acting speaker if the speaker is unable to fulfil his or her duties.
According to the council resolution, DA councillor Zweli Khumalo was appointed as the acting speaker.
The ANC argued it had submitted this request in terms of Tshwane’s rules and orders that spoke to the review of a council decision.
It also handed in its submission that was purportedly signed by a third of the members in the council and asked that a vote be taken without a debate as set out in the rules and orders.
After a short caucus break, Mathebe denied the request, citing the Municipal Systems Act, which speaks to the delegation in the council.
She said if the ANC wanted to rescind the resolution, they could bring a motion to the council to be tabled.
Unhappy with her ruling, ANC members threatened to collapse the council by staging a walkout. However, another caucus meeting was called.
As the council resumed, ANC and EFF members berated Mathebe, accusing her of misinterpreting the law and asking her to correct her mistake.
Mathebe said her ruling was final, which led to both the ANC and EFF staging a walkout and collapsing the council.
Speaking to the media after the council collapsed, the ANC chairperson in Tshwane, Dr Kgosi Maepa, said Mathebe had flatly refused to use any of the laws, rules and orders at her disposal.
He added the same legislation quoted by her was used to appoint Khumalo in the first place through the council, meaning it should then be able to review and rescind this decision in the same manner.
“The speaker must put this to a vote without a debate and let democracy prevail,” Maepa said.
He added the ANC would go to court to challenge her ruling and it would also be writing to Gauteng Cogta MEC Lebogang Maile.
Mathebe responded: “I am guided by the letter of the law. If the court didn’t give this guidance, I would have been persuaded otherwise. The intention of section 59 is for delegated matters and the municipal council took this decision. I cannot do anything as speaker that is inconsistent with the law.”
Mathebe also welcomed any court challenge.
DA deputy chief whip Mpho Mehlape-Zimu on Friday morning expressed confidence that the ANC would have struggled to prove urgency because the matters they were dealing with were both bad in law and already the subject of a review application pending in the High Court.
“Their case also contained allegations that were devoid of fact. The ANC’s understanding of the law is sadly lacking,” said Mehlape-Zimu.
“Maile’s allegations of gross misconduct against Mathebe and Van Den Heever were intended to derail the city from continuing the good work of delivering services to the residents of Tshwane.
“The DA is confident that rulings made by the Speaker are lawful and can stand in any court of law.
“The ANC should rather focus on fixing their own house and allow the DA to focus on the business of Council and approving much-needed by-laws and other service delivery programmes to the benefit of the city and its residents.”
(Compiled by Charles Cilliers. Background reporting, News24 Wire)
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