Gauteng human settlements, urban planning, and cooperative governance and traditional affairs (Cogta) MEC Lebogang Maile has suspended Tshwane speaker Katlego Mathebe and Johannesburg speaker Vasco Da Gama for six months and three months respectively.
Following a request made to Mathebe to explain herself as to why she failed to fulfil her duties by neglecting to preside over the council meeting held on December 5, Maile’s office said in a statement the department had reached a decision to place the speaker on suspension.
“In the circumstances, it is our carefully considered opinion that the speaker has breached Item 2 of the Code of Conduct for Councillors. To that end, we invoked the powers vested in us by item 14(6)(a) of the Code and suspended the speaker as a councillor for a period of six (6) months without pay, effective from the date of receipt of our letter.”
Da Gama was suspended for three months without pay, effective from the date of receiving Cogta’s letter.
“These decisions will be communicated to EXCO for noting. It is important to underscore that these decisions were taken in the best interest of our nascent democracy, and burying any falsehood being peddled by certain voices that we are abusing our powers for sectarian politics. This is far-fetched and removed from the actual truth supported or backed by indisputable facts.”
Cogta said it deemed Mathebe’s response to questions regarding her conduct unacceptable as she was well aware of the vote of no confidence against her on 5 December.
“We strongly hold a view that her explanation does not, to say the least, make sense, not unless it was a deliberate act on her part to vitiate the council proceedings in order to prevent the motion against her being carried. It is our carefully considered view that in doing so, the speaker placed her personal interest [to remain speaker by any means necessary], above the interest of the municipality and by extension, the residents of the city.
“Had she acted appropriately, and genuinely felt conflicted, she would have taken the necessary steps before the council meeting by ensuring that systems and mechanisms were in place for the proceedings of the council meeting to be conducted without any disturbance.”
In light of the chaos during a special council sitting on 16 January, Cogta said their conclusion was informed by the sequence of events that led to the collapse of the council meeting.
“Clearly, the speaker’s overall conduct was blatantly motivated to collapse the entire council proceedings to safeguard her self-interest at the expense of the interest of the residents of Tshwane.”
In regards to Da Gama, Cogta said his conduct on 27 November 2019 could be described as a serious contravention of Item 2 of the Code of Conduct for Councillors as embedded in Schedule 1 to the Local Government: Municipal Systems Act, No. 32 of 2000, as amended.
Cogta looked at the options to ensure that a Tshwane council meeting scheduled for later in January – tasked with handling four motions of no confidence against the mayor, speaker, acting speaker and chair of chairs – would continue uninterrupted.