South Africa

WESTERN CAPE POLITICS

Game of Thrones, Cederberg rewind: Court rules against ANC council takeover

An ANC takeover of the Cederberg municipal council from a DA-led coalition has been ruled unlawful by the Western Cape High Court. (Photo: EPA / Nic Bothma / Google Maps)

The ongoing council fights between the DA and ANC in the smaller councils in the Western Cape just took another turn. Following a June ANC takeover in the Cederberg municipality, the Western Cape High Court ruled a council sitting – which effectively put the ANC into power – was unlawful, and awarded costs to the DA.

Nearly one month after a council sitting in the Cederberg municipality which saw the DA-led council removed in a motion of no confidence, the Western Cape High Court ruled that the election of the municipality’s new mayor, deputy mayor and speaker were “unlawful, reviewed and set aside”.

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Read in Daily Maverick: Game of Thrones, Cederberg style: ANC seizes local council as DA defects.

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On 26 June, the DA speaker of the Cederberg Municipality, Bertie Zass, allowed a motion of no confidence in the mayor, William Farmer, and the deputy mayor, Fransiena Sokuyeko. Zass resigned as council speaker and defected to the ANC, then voted with his new party to remove Farmer and Sokuyeko, a member of the Alliance of Democratic Congress (ADC).

Before the council sitting, the 11-seat Cederberg Municipality council consisted of five seats each for the ANC and DA, with the ADC taking the 11th seat. The DA led the municipality alongside the ADC, with Sokuyeka as deputy mayor.

Following Zass’s defection, the ANC took over the municipality, with Sylvia Quntu becoming mayor. Mariaan Nel became deputy mayor and Paul Strauss took Zass’s vacant speaker position.

The DA then took the matter for court review.

Monday’s court ruling stated the decisions of the council meeting of 26 June were unlawful – including the removal of Farmer and Sokuyeko as well as the appointments of Quntu, Nel and Strauss.

The decision to make Strauss the council’s speaker, as well as any decisions made by Strauss as speaker were also declared unlawful.

DA Western Cape leader Bonginkosi Madikizela said, “We are further encouraged that these members of the ANC along with Bertie Zass, who recently left the DA to join the ANC and who also initiated and presided over these unlawful proceedings, would be held financially responsible for the legal costs… this is a victory, not only for the DA, but for the people of Cederberg who, through their vote, elected the DA to govern the municipality.

If the ANC wants to govern they must be elected democratically by the people of Cederberg.”

The ANC in the Western Cape told Daily Maverick “We will study the judgment before commenting further.” DM

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