POLITICAL NEWS - Randall Williams, the DA’s candidate to become Tshwane’s next mayor, has denied that the City of Tshwane was placed under administration, as announced by Gauteng Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) MEC Lebogang Maile yesterday.
It was announced that the effectively leaderless City of Tshwane was placed under administration by the provincial government after successive attempts to hold council meetings proved unsuccessful.
Maile and Gauteng Premier David Makhura held a media briefing on Thursday to announce that the provincial council would dissolve the metro’s council and place it under administration.
Invoking Section 139(1)(c) of the Constitution, Makhura said fresh elections for a new council would take place within 90 days.
Maile has been at odds with the DA-led administration in Tshwane ever since he made known his intention to intervene last year.
Things were brought to a head last week when the council failed to appoint a new mayor following Stevens Mokgalapa’s last day in office, placing it at risk of dissolution because it failed to pass its adjustment budgets by the end of February 2020.
Mokgalapa resigned after his own party gave him an ultimatum. He had been on suspension after an audio clip was leaked of him engaging in an apparent intimate act with former roads and transport MMC Sheila Senkubuge.
He was appointed in 2019 ahead of the national polls in a bid, by the DA, to stabilise the municipality following the resignation of Solly Msimanga.
Msimanga also resigned with a cloud over his head, which included allegations of the irregular awarding of a multibillion-rand contract to GladAfrica.
He said the decision was only taken on Wednesday, adding that the executive council would include national Cogta Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zulu, the speaker of the legislature and the chairperson of the National Council of Provinces.
“In how we have dealt in the DA-led municipalities, we have been very lenient, very cautious and we have been driven by the spirit of cooperative governance, inter-governmental relations, and we have been interested in service delivery more than party politics, and we have avoided to put party politics first,” he said.
Maile intended to meet the City of Tshwane’s senior managers on Saturday to craft a programme for service delivery, he said.
He added that in seven days, he would announce a clear programme and unveil the administrator appointed, with the help of Cogta.
“We are going to put a team [together] which will be multi-skilled and multi-disciplinary. It’s going to be experienced, seasoned administrators. We are going to look at all the areas of weaknesses.
No way, says DA
However, Williams argued that unless and until the appropriate processes had been complied with, normal council functions were still in the hands of those who were “democratically elected”.
“We will do everything we can to avoid the dissolution of this council,” he said on Friday, as it would allegedly set an “extremely bad precedent for all minority Councils after 2021”.
He said official letters to Cogta Minister Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, for her consideration, had not yet been served on the DA nor the municipality and all they had to go on was the media statement issued by Maile on Thursday.
“Maile’s intention to meet with staff on Saturday and appointing an administrator is therefore wholly immature, in terms of Section 139 of the Constitution,” said Williams.
“Maile and and Gauteng Premier David Makhura are riding roughshod over our Constitution and democracy. This again confirms our contention that their actions are illegal based on preliminary legal advice, which confirmed this.”
Williams added that the “battle for the City of Tshwane” went much deeper than a dispute about service delivery and the ability to hold council meetings.
“The real fight is a principled one making the Constitution and its democracy the actual battle field.
“There are municipalities in Gauteng that are on the brink of real collapse with very poor financial and service delivery records. These are the municipalities that should concern Maile and offer a strong case for being placed under administration.
“His refusal to do so can only be explained that these are ANC-governed municipalities. It further proves that his motives are clearly political.”
He argued that strategy of the opposition to collapse council meetings since November 2019 was a “coordinated and orchestrated effort executed in conjunction with Maile to create the perception that the City of Tshwane is in crisis”.
“It was their intention from the start to place the City under administration in order for the opposition to get its hands on the resources of the municipality through the backdoor. It is in light of these facts that the DA has taken a principled decision to stand up and fight for democracy.
“We have obtained legal advice and will in all probability interdict the dissolution of the municipality. The process followed by Maile is fatally flawed and they have not followed due process.”