Home News Can the real mayor, Speaker and acting MM please stand up?

Can the real mayor, Speaker and acting MM please stand up?

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Advocate Barry Roux SC is appearing on behalf of former Phokwane mayor Tebogo Afrika, Speaker Portia Selogilwe and acting municipal manager Busisiwe Mgaguli. Picture: Soraya Crowie

The court has been charged with determining who the rightful mayor, Speaker and acting municipal manager at Phokwane Municipality are.

PHOKWANE mayor Olebogeng Tumodi, Speaker Goitsemodimo Halter and acting municipal manager Mpho Mojaki stated that they would remain in their positions despite a court on Thursday removing conditions to interdict and restrain the officials who were previously occupying these positions.

An interim urgent interdict was obtained against municipal mayor Tebogo Afrika, Speaker Portia Selogilwe and acting municipal manager Busiswe Mgaguli on January 7 after the majority councillors voted them out.

Bodyguards controlled access to the municipal offices last week, while councillors claimed that they were manhandled and assaulted.

The ANC expelled Tumodi from the party earlier this week for voting with the opposition.

Northern Cape High Court Judge Lawrence Lever on Thursday removed the conditions of the interdict that interdicted and restrained Afrika, Selogilwe and Mgaguli from unlawfully acting and/or assuming the roles and responsibilities as the Speaker, mayor and acting municipal manager.

The court has been charged with determining who the rightful mayor, Speaker and acting municipal manager at Phokwane Municipality are.

“The atmosphere is politically charged, where each party has different interests and it is the role of the court to resolve these issues,” Lever noted.

He, however, added that should Afrika, Selogilwe and Mgaguli attempt to reinstate themselves before the matter is finalised in court, it would be “in extreme bad faith”.

“I do not believe that they will go against the order under the circumstances. They are still restrained from disrupting the operations of the municipality, damaging property, intimidating any person or blocking access into the premises.”

Lever pointed out that both groups claimed to have the mandate of the people.

“As the member has been expelled the answer will come from a by-election. A lot is at stake and it will be imperative to expedite the matter. A member who has been terminated from the party ceases to be a member of that party… where an ANC member voted in by his party, switched sides.”

The legal representative for the majority councillors, advocate Phaza Jimmy Ngandwe, indicated his clients feared that anarchy would be unleashed at the municipality.

“With the current leadership at the helm, there is calm and peace at the municipality, workers are working and services are being delivered,” said Ngandwe.

“Last week the police had to be called in to prevent a bloodbath, while the police had to break open the gate to free themselves after they were also locked inside. The acting municipal manager was intimidated and manhandled. His jacket pocket was torn while trying to retrieve the keys to the mayoral vehicle.”

Ngandwe added that the interim interdict was obtained to prevent the destruction of municipal property and threat to life.

“There is a real fear that the former officials will claw their way back into their positions if they get the chance. This creates the impression that there are two centres of power, where chaos will reign once more at Phokwane Municipality.”

He said that the appointment of Mojaki, Halter and Tumodi was procedural and lawful, where they were voted in by a majority of 10 out of a total of 19 councillors.

“The minority are trying to overrule the majority and this is against the will of the electorate. The new leadership has been in office for seven days. We do not want a situation where the municipality is micro-managed or where it is not able to function.”

He explained that the majority councillors had requested a safer venue to continue with a council meeting that was disrupted after fighting broke out in the chambers on December 13.

The legal representative for Selogilwe, Afrika and Mgaguli, advocate Barry Roux SC, pointed out that certain councillors were excluded from meetings to “hire and fire” staff.

“Can the outcome be sanctioned? There was no notice of the meeting and amid threats of violence the Speaker, Portia Selogilwe, called it off. It was a case of ‘so what if we don’t invite the rest of the councillors’, where they proceeded to appoint the acting municipal manager,” said Roux.

He added that the court application in the Northern Cape High Court on January 7 was filed at “short notice”, where they were “unable to make it on time”.

Roux requested that the interim mayor, Speaker and acting municipal manager should not enter into any long-term contracts or appoint senior managers while they are in office.

“They should not take substantial decisions or bind the municipality into any financial liabilities.”

Arguments will be heard in court next month.

New Phokwane mayor Olebogeng Tumodi. The ANC has expelled him for voting with the opposition. Picture: Soraya Crowie
The new Phokwane Municipality Speaker, Goitsemodimo Halter. Picture: Soraya Crowie
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