DA calls for meeting to elect new mayor, city manager

DA provincial leader Nqaba Bhanga

The DA has given Nelson Mandela Bay council speaker Buyelwa Mafaya an ultimatum to convene a special council meeting to be held next Monday — or they will turn to the courts.

Calls for an urgent council meeting to be convened to elect a new mayor and appoint a new acting city manager came after co-operative governance and  traditional affairs MEC Xolile Nqatha announced last week that he would approach the province’s executive council to ask that the Bay council be dissolved.

DA provincial leader Nqaba Bhanga said should Mafaya not comply,  they would turn to Nqatha.

“We’ve separately written to MEC Nqatha demanding that if Mafaya fails to send out this notice, he, by 1pm on Thursday, write to Mafaya and instruct her to convene a meeting by Monday.

“If both of them fail in doing so then the DA will turn to the court for an urgent application to force this city to convene a council meeting by Monday,” Bhanga said.

He was speaking at a virtual press conference convened by the DA on Wednesday in the wake of Nqatha’s threat to invoke section 139 (1) (c) of the constitution that would place the metro under administration.

In a letter sent last Tuesday, Nqatha gave acting mayor Thsonono Buyeye seven days to explain why he should not place the city under administration.

Nqatha said he wanted the council to elect a new mayor and replace Mvuleni Mapu as acting city manager, or he would appeal to the Eastern Cape government to support his proposal that the council be dissolved.

Bay acting mayor Thsonono Buyeye appointed housing director Mvuleni Mapu as the city’s acting city manager on June 8.

Several parties were against Mapu’s appointment, including the DA and the ANC’s regional task team in the city, but during the June 29 council meeting several councillors from the ANC defied their party and seconded Mapu’s appointment.

Bhanga said Nqatha’s letter sought clarity on what aspects of section 139(1) Buyeye intended taking.

“The bar is set very high for a provincial government to place a municipality under administration and must not be taken lightly. The province must prove that they have acted to support and service the city in the years and months leading up to this decision.

“Should MEC Nqatha follow through with his threats of dissolving the council without first exhausting measures which are less destructive to democracy, we have instructed our attorneys to seek urgent relief, and a punitive costs order against the MEC,” Bhanga said.

DA councillor Morne Steyn said the party wanted to compel council to elect a new mayor, appoint a qualified acting city manager as well see the metro’s action plan that would mitigate the National Treasury’s threat to withhold grant funding.

One of the Treasury’s reasons for withholding grant funding was Mapu’s appointment.

“We’ve been following the advice of our legal counsel in taking all the necessary procedures so as to not to rush to a legal recourse, and if the meeting isn’t called then we’ll go to the courts.

“We also want individuals to be held personally liable for costs and have the current coalition settle the costs at the expense of ratepayers,” Steyn said.

Asked if the DA would be working with UDM councillor Mongameli Bobani, Bhanga said no.

“We’re not working with Bobani, but Cope and ACDP as always.”

By Nomazima Nkosi- HeraldLIVE

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