The Democratic Alliance (DA) has said it will take legal action against Gauteng MEC for Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Lebogang Maile for “political harassment.”
Earlier on Thursday, Maile suspended former City of Johannesburg Speaker Vasco Da Gama as a councillor for three months without pay for contravening the Code of Conduct for Councillors.
Da Gama controversially adjourned a council meeting last year ahead of a vote to elect the city’s new Mayor following Herman Mashaba’s resignation.
Maile also suspended current City of Tshwane Speaker Katlego Mathebe for six months without pay for failing to preside over two council meetings ahead of votes of no confidence against her and the Mayor.
However, the DA reacted angrily to the suspensions within hours of Maile’s press conference on Thursday.
In a statement, the party’s interim leader John Steenhuisen said the Municipal Systems Act does not permit Maile to make the suspensions without a council resolution.
He said, “The DA will not give in to the bullying tactics of MEC Maile. We have instructed our lawyers to approach the courts on an urgent basis to review this illegal move.”
Personal cost order
Steenhuisen added, “We have also written to the MEC to invite him to retract his unlawful decision, failing which we will apply for a personal and punitive cost order against Maile.”
He slammed Maile’s move as “self-serving” and cited several examples of the African National Congress (ANC), which deployed Maile, failing to act against its councillors.
The DA leader said the ANC had not invoked the law against former eThekwini Mayor Zandile Gumede or former Emfuleni Mayor Simon Mofokeng despite various allegations against them.
“The ANC’s selective application of the law, applied only to DA councillors, shows its transparent hypocrisy and emphasises that they care not for residents, but rather for their own narrow interest to attain power at all costs,” Steenhuisen added.
A council vote to elect Johannesburg Mayor was eventually held last year. ANC’s Geoff Makhubo won the vote with help from some DA councillors.
In Tshwane, Stevens Mokgalapa, who is on special leave, remains Mayor. However, the DA’s Federal Council is set to make a decision on his future imminently.