Cogta MEC must not intervene in Nelson Mandela Bay, says DA
The coalition-led council has been struggling to keep political stability amid the pandemic with two executive mayors gone via no-confidence votes
DA attorneys have written to the Eastern Cape co-operative governance and traditional affairs (Cogta) head to confirm he will not intervene in troubled Nelson Mandela Bay without first indicating the steps he intends taking against the metro.
The coalition-led council, like its counterpart in Tshwane that also emerged from the 2016 municipal elections, has been struggling to maintain political stability with two executive mayors removed through no-confidence votes since 2018.
The instability comes as the municipality is reeling from a surge in in Covid-19 infections making it the epicentre of the pandemic in the Eastern Cape, where 75,067 people have tested positive and 1,545 have died.
Cogta MEC Xolile Nqatha wrote to acting executive mayor Thsonono Buyeye on June 21, saying he intended recommending that the provincial executive invoke relevant provisions within legislation that puts the metro under administration.
Nqatha has given the metro until Friday to explain why it should not be placed under administration over its failure to appoint a permanent executive mayor, and rectify the controversial appointment of ANC councillor Mvuleni Mapu as acting municipal manager, which the Treasury considers to be irregular and unlawful.
The metro has been without a mayor since December 2019, when a UDM councillor was removed as executive mayor through a no-confidence vote. Buyeye has been acting mayor since, but Nqatha has said having someone acting as mayor perpetually cannot be in the interest of good governance.
In a letter addressed to Nqatha dated July 27, DA lawyers Minde Schapiro & Smith called on the MEC to confirm he will not intervene without first indicating the steps under consideration, and allowing the council to meet to consider a response.
“As you are no doubt aware, section 139(1) allows for a wide variety of interventions. These range from issuing directions that certain steps be taken to dissolve the municipal council,” the letter stated. “In the circumstances, it would be premature and inappropriate to intervene without providing an indication of the steps contemplated and without allowing the council to meet to consider a response to the threatened intervention.”
The lawyers called on Nqatha to “explicitly confirm” if it was his intention to dissolve the council, stating: “Any attempt on your part to dissolve the council without first exhausting measures that are less destructive to democracy would be obviously unlawful. Should you unlawfully dissolve the council we hold instructions to seek urgent relief and a punitive costs order against you.”
Nqatha has until Thursday to respond. Nqatha’s spokesperson Mamnkeli Ngam said: “The MEC is in possession of the letter from the DA lawyers. He is studying its contents and will provide the necessary response.”
The DA has also called on ANC speaker of the council Buyelwa Mafaya to call an urgent meeting on Monday to appoint a new mayor, failing which it will seek a court order compelling her to do so. Mafaya did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but the ANC in the region has said it welcomes any intervention that seeks to stabilise the institution.
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