South Africa: DA Heading to Court After Gauteng MEC Maile Suspends Senior DA Councillors

The DA has instructed its lawyers to file an urgent application in the courts against Gauteng Cogta MEC Lebogang Maile for alleged political harassment.

This after Maile announced on Thursday that he had suspended two of the DA's councillors, former Johannesburg speaker Vasco da Gama and Tshwane speaker Katlego Mathebe, for breaching the code of conduct.

Da Gama has been suspended for three months while Mathebe has been suspended for six months. Both will not be paid during this period.

DA leader John Steenhuisen released a statement calling out Maile and the ANC's "hypocrisy" in his handling of council matters.

Steenhuisen cited Emfuleni mayor Simon Mofokeng and former eThekweni mayor Zandile Gumede, who he said never received so much as a slap on the wrist for their alleged criminal conduct.

"The ANC's selective application of the law, applied only to DA councillors, shows its transparent hypocrisy and emphasises that they care not for the residents, but rather for their own narrow interest to attain power at all costs."

In his sharply-worded statement, Steenhuisen said the DA would not give into bullying tactics by Maile, adding that their lawyers would review the legal merits of the two councillors' suspension.

The DA leader will also write to Maile, inviting him to retract his "unlawful" decision, "failing which we will apply for personal and punitive costs against Maile," Steenhuisen said.

Tensions between Maile and the DA-led governments in Tshwane and Johannesburg escalated shortly after the ANC filed motions of no confidence against Da Gama, Mathebe and Tshwane Mayor Stevens Mokgalapa.

'Ambiguity in the municipal structures act'

Maile has on several occasions indicated that he would take action against the two DA speakers after they respectively suspended and postponed special council meetings.

"The speaker's overall conduct in both council meetings and after, leaves much to be desired. The vigour with which she behaved to protect her interest to remain speaker at all cost irrespective of the consequences, cannot be tolerated anymore," Maile said.

Anticipating a fight back from the DA, Maile told journalists he was prepared to go to the courts. He said his decision was consistent with the law, adding that he was impartial to avoid any accusations of tilting the balance of forces to favour the ANC.

Decisions must be rational

"It's their responsibility as an opposition to punch holes at every decision we take so I am not worried.

"What we must worry about is whether the decisions we take are rational, whether the decisions we take are in the best interest of the country, whether the decisions we take are consistent with the Constitution and other legal prescripts of the country. Not whether the DA will respond in this manner or that manner. We are not worried."

He added that his decision had implications for ANC councillors cautioning that he would act harsher with party members.

"Just wait and see. That is why we are starting with Emfuleni, where we have put them under administration. That is not bearing fruit.

"We must up the ante and make sure we don't play. That is why next week we are meeting with mayors one on one so that when we strike it's not that we are petty or punitive.

"Even the two councillors, we are not being punitive, we want them to stay at home and reflect and come back better people. If we wanted to be punitive we would expel them and we don't want to expel councillors," Maile said.

Source: News24

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