Home News Row over two acting municipal managers at Phokwane Municipality heads to court

Row over two acting municipal managers at Phokwane Municipality heads to court

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Officials at Phokwane Local Municipality will apply for an urgent interdict against opposition councillors and an ANC councillor after they voted in an acting municipal manager during a council meeting on December 13.

OFFICIALS at Phokwane Local Municipality will apply for an urgent interdict against opposition councillors and an ANC councillor after they voted in an acting municipal manager, following a scuffle where punches were thrown during a council meeting on December 13.

The application is expected to be heard in the Northern Cape High Court on December 20, where opposition parties have indicated that they will oppose the matter.

It now appears as if there are two acting municipal managers (MM) at Phokwane Municipality after the corporate services director, Mpho Mojaki, was issued with a letter of appointment to start as the acting MM from December 14.

This follows after the majority of councillors, including the EFF, DA, FF+, the Forum 4 Service Delivery and the Phokwane Service Delivery Forum, along with an ANC councillor, voted for Mojaki to be appointed as acting MM during a special council meeting that was convened without the ANC on Monday.

The ANC narrowly won Phokwane Municipality with 10 seats, with opposition parties occupying a total of nine seats – with the EFF having four seats, the DA two and the FF+, Phokwane Service Delivery Forum and Forum 4 Service Delivery having one seat each.

In March 2020, Mojaki was placed on precautionary suspension and interdicted from entering Phokwane Municipality after he was appointed as the acting MM against the advice of the administrator.

The letter of appointment, along with the immediate termination of employment of the current acting MM Busiswe Mgaguli, was signed by the acting Speaker, Mosimanegape Michael Setlhogomi, on December 13.

The Phokwane municipal mayor, Tebogo Afrika, Speaker Portia Selogilwe and Mgaguli wish to restrain Mojaki from taking office.

The applicants will argue that the termination of Mgaguli’s employment was unlawful and invalid and that she should remain in her position until her contract expires on January 14, 2022, unless her employment is terminated by a duly authorised council.

The interdict seeks to declare the meeting that was convened by opposition members illegal and is of the opinion that the acting Speaker acted unlawfully.

Mgaguli, in court papers, pointed out that the conduct of the councillors would “cripple” the ability of the municipality to provide service delivery and render the municipality “ungovernable”, “plunge the municipality into an unprecedented crisis” and have a “devastating impact on the financial well-being” of the municipality.

“The respondents brazenly and unlawfully gave wide-ranging instructions while pretending to exercise a power which they do not have in perpetuation of a falsehood. They are giving unlawful instructions under false pretences, which is negatively impacting on the proper functioning of the municipality. Their conduct is aimed at creating a shadow council to delegitimise the existence of the Speaker and render the administration of the municipality unworkable.”

Mgaguli stated that the termination of her employment was unlawfully orchestrated.

“The letter dated December 14 creates the impression that either two persons have been appointed as the acting municipal manager, or that I have been removed from office or my contract was terminated. This is an untenable situation. It creates instability within the municipality and makes it intolerable for me to perform my functions, or for the Speaker to do so.”

She added that councillors were not permitted to unlawfully interfere in the administrative running of the municipality.

“Their conduct constitutes a flagrant violation of the code of conduct of councillors. Their conduct makes a mockery of the proper function of council and poses a great threat to the stability of the municipality. It has a massive potential to place the municipality into disarray and perpetuate the maladministration.”

She also pointed out that the only time an acting Speaker could be appointed was in the event of the absence of the Speaker, or if the Speaker was ill-disposed to carry out her obligations.

“Accordingly, this was never the case. The Speaker was never petitioned to convene a special council meeting. As head of the municipality, the mayor never communicated the appointment or termination of the acting municipal manager.”

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