Gauteng MEC for Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Lebogang Maile has rescinded his decision to suspend two councillors of the Democratic Alliance (DA).
Last week, 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.
‘Series of consultations’
Maile also suspended 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 Mayor Stevens Mokgalapa.
However, the DA threatened to take Maile to court, arguing that the Municipal Systems Act does not permit him to make the suspensions without a council resolution.
In a statement on Monday, Maile’s department said he had been engaged in a “series of consultations with Senior Counsel” on the matter.
It added, “In light of the advice received, MEC Maile has taken a decision to rescind the suspension of the two councillors with immediate effect.”
‘Personal cost order’
The department said Da Gama, Mathebe and their lawyers have already been informed of the decision.
Maile’s withdrawal of the suspensions is likely to draw attention to his department’s decision-making processes and stir more controversy.
The DA had also threatened to pursue a “personal and punitive cost” order against Maile if he did not retract his “unlawful decision.”
In his statement last week, DA interim leader John Steenhuisen said, “The DA will not give in to the bullying tactics of MEC Maile.”
He argued that the African National Congress (ANC) was targeting DA councillors while ANC councillors, such as former eThekwini Mayor Zandile Gumede, had never been sanctioned despite having serious allegations against them.
Steenhuisen added, “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.”