The DA in Gauteng has accused Gauteng human settlements, urban planning and Cogta MEC Lebogang Maile of using bullying tactics against the City’s speaker to force a change of government in Tshwane.
In a statement on Monday, the DA’s Gauteng chairperson, Mike Moriarty, inferred that Maile was using his provincial position to do the ANC’s bidding and trying to help the party reclaim Tshwane, which it lost to a DA-led coalition in the 2016 local government elections.
Moriarty said Maile’s focus had been on the council and speaker Katlego Mathebe.
“The truth is that Maile believes that the only person standing in the ANC’s way [of grabbing] power is the speaker,” Moriarty said.
“Hence, his attacks, which have become personal. He cannot grab power. He is frustrated and resents being shown up for being powerless.”
According to Moriarty, Maile attempted to put Tshwane under administration but misapplied Section 139 of the Constitution. In addition, he attempted a “coup d’état by sending officials to hijack control over Tshwane council meetings”.
Moriarty was referring to a special council sitting in December 2018, in which a Cogta official stepped in to preside over the appointment of a temporary speaker to hear a motion of no confidence in Mathebe.
This, after acting speaker Zweli Khumalo, who was appointed through a council resolution in 2017 to act in the event that Mathebe was unavailable, was physically removed from presiding over the meeting.
The meeting eventually led to the sacking of Mathebe and Mayor Stevens Mokgalapa. These resolutions have since been suspended, pending a challenge against the legality of the events.
Maile recently wrote to Mathebe following the chaotic events that unfolded during a special council meeting last Thursday.
The sitting – which was meant to deal with motions of no confidence in the mayor, speaker, acting speaker and chair of chairs – descended into pandemonium when parties battled over the sequence of the motions.
Arguments led to shouting matches, disruptions, protests and a scuffle between ANC members and the chief of staff in the speaker’s office.
Mathebe refused to bend to calls by the ANC and EFF to change the order in which the motions would be heard, or to recuse herself, which ultimately led to the collapse of the council as the two parties staged a walkout.
Maile requested a meeting with the speaker, which Mathebe apparently turned down. Maile said this was “unbecoming behaviour” from Mathebe.
“The latest round in the Tshwane saga exposes MEC Lebogang Maile for what he essentially is, a bully. Over the past few weeks, he has sent letters and made media statements regarding the Tshwane speaker, not necessarily in that order. But his huffing and puffing will not blow the Tshwane house down,” Moriarty said.
Moriarty added that Mathebe’s record showed that she acted correctly during council sittings and that Maile did not understand his that role was about oversight – not control.
“Instead, he wants to act on the challenges of the legacy of problems inherited by the DA-led council, citing some extreme form of failure.”
“It the speaker is wrong, then Maile can go to court. But he won’t go the legal route because he knows his actions are not legal.”