MunicipalNews

DA to take legal route to oust the speaker of Govan Mbeki Municipality

Mayor says the DA can go ahead, but Magagamela is staying put.

The Democratic Alliance is instituting legal action to remove the Govan Mbeki Municipality’s speaker, Fikile Magagamela.

According to the DA, Magagamela was officially voted out of the council, but she is refusing to vacate her seat.

The African Transformation Movement (ATM) tabled a motion of no confidence against Magagamela and was supported by the DA, EFF, FF Plus, IFP and ARP councillors that are jointly in majority.

However, the ATM later at another meeting withdrew the motion.

At the time the motion was tabled, the opposition accused Magagamela of being a referee and a player, claiming that it was a conflict of interest while the ANC has forgotten that they are now the minority in the council.

After the motion was presented in the meeting, it was rejected by ANC councillors, while all opposition parties wanted the motion to stand.

That started a lengthy debate when a DA councillor proposed the speaker leave her chair and must not preside over the motion as it was about her removal, because it is a conflict of interest and against the council’s standing orders.

Magagamela was, however, protected by ANC councillors who claimed the speaker should preside over her motion. They denied that the matter was contradictory to the standing orders.

The matter was taken to a vote to decide if the motion can remain as a standing item.

The ANC lost to opposition parties by 26 to 33 votes.

The speaker then announced that the motion must be debated.

Councillors of the respective parties were surprised because they usually don’t debate matters but rather go over to a vote when they disagree and by then the DA regarded Magagamela as the former speaker.

“Magagamela was voted out at a council meeting on March 31 after a motion was passed, but the Speaker refuses to vacate.

“We instructed our lawyers to submit a letter to the acting municipal manager, demanding that she calls and presides over a council meeting to elect a new Speaker by no later than May 16.

“Failure to accede to the demand, will force us to institute legal proceedings against the acting municipal manager,” said DA councillor James Masango.

“The DA will also seek a cost order against the acting municipal manager.

“We regard all council meetings that took place after March 31 and which were presided over by Cllr Magagamela as null and void.

“The DA is a party that stands for the rule of law. We will therefore do everything in our power to ensure that laws of this country are applied accordingly,” said Masango.

The mayor, Nhlakanipho Zuma, said the DA is at liberty to go to court, but council work will continue and the speaker will continue with her work.

“After the motion was presented by the municipal manager, the speaker asked the council if the motion should stand as a council item or not.

“Some councillors agreed and others disagree, then the matter was subjected to a vote where those who wanted the item to stand won.

“According to the council’s standing orders, once we agree that the item stand, then the council decide on whether the item is referred to the mayoral committee or dealt with it in council.

“It is the council’s prerogative not to refer the matter to the mayoral committee,” said Zuma.

Zuma said that did not happen. He said when they wanted to deal with the item, the DA refused for the item to be debated and demanded that the speaker should vacate her seat.

The mayor said the voting process for the speaker’s removal never happened but they only considered the motion.

“As it stands, the speaker is in her office as the council speaker and the councillor who put forward the motion later withdrew it.

“Local government is governed by the Municipal Structures Act where each municipality decides how they are going to apply the act,” Zuma explained.

“Section 40 of the structures act says the speaker can be removed from the office through written notice prior to council seating, but the act is not clear on what needs to be done after.

“Only the council standing orders give guidance on what needs to happen,” said Zuma.

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