Phalatse’s last-ditch attempt to wrestle power back from ANC

By Michael Appel

The now former mayor of Joburg, Dr Mpho Phalatse, wants her job back and she’s turning to the courts to try and snatch back the reins from what she calls the ANC’s “coalition of corruption”.

On Monday she filed her application with the high court in Johannesburg. She wants the decision taken on 29 September by the new speaker in council, COPE’s Colleen Makhubele, to schedule an extraordinary meeting of the council for the next day, declared unlawful, invalid and unconstitutional. Similarly, Phalatse wants the decision of the council’s programming committee to place the motion of no confidence on the agenda of the special sitting nullified. Phalatse wants the courts to ultimately rule that she remains the executive mayor of Johannesburg.

The former mayor had gone to court on an urgent basis to interdict the extraordinary sitting of council but said: “My application was removed from the roll with costs reserved”.

It was at this sitting on 30 September where Phalatse was removed from her position as mayor through an ANC-sponsored motion of no confidence with 139 councillors in the 270 seat council voting to boot her out. This is three more votes than is necessary to achieve the 50% plus one threshold. The numbers are interesting, considering that when the multi-party government came into power after last year’s local government elections, it had 140 seats in its bloc. That it was able to garner only 131 votes in rejecting the motion shows significant dissent within their ranks.

Phalatse has since been replaced as mayor by the ANC’s Dada Morero. It became evident there was significant turmoil in the nine-party coalition government in Johannesburg when several councillors from within the DA-led coalition voted against their partners to oust the DA’s speaker in council, Vasco da Gama. Makhubele was one of those councillors.

BizNews has interviewed Makhubele about what informed her decision to vote against her coalition partners effectively paving the way for the ANC to retake Johannesburg. You can listen to that interview here.

Below Phalatse has laid out in her court papers why she believes the extraordinary sitting, presided over by Makhubele, was “unlawful”.

If the special sitting of the council of 30 September was illegal and unlawful, then Phalatse argues any decisions that flowed from that meeting – like the voting in of Morero as the new mayor – are considered fruit of the poisonous tree and won’t stand up to legal scrutiny.

On the eve of the council sitting where – it can be argued – the writing was on the wall for Phalatse, she made a video appeal to the citizens of Johannesburg describing a cast of “nefarious actors” who were seeking to oust her from office in favour of a “corrupt cabal…seeking to empty the city’s coffers”. She encouraged residents to make their voices heard with the #HandsOffJoburg.

On Tuesday Phalatse issued a statement saying: “We will focus our attention on regaining the City of Johannesburg and stop the ANC and its partners in the coalition of corruption from looting the city a second time and again paying no heed to the needs of the residents. The DA is well aware of the anger and frustration residents may be feeling, especially if your vote was one of those sold to get the ANC back, but rest assured that the DA will not back down or give in.”

The application will be heard on 11 October.

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