The DA opposition in North West’s biggest municipality has won another victory – though temporary.
Following the stepping down of Rustenburg council’s speaker, Sheila Mabale-Huma, ANC mayor Mpho Khunou has now resigned from his post. The party is confident, however, that he will be re-elected when a special council meeting sits on Friday in the embattled local municipality.
A joint caucus of opposition parties agreed during a meeting last week that a court challenge by the DA – which triggered Mabale-Huma’s resignation – should be extended to probe all alleged irregularities during the first sitting of council on August 19, including the election of the mayor and other full-time councillors.
North West ANC deputy secretary Susan Dantjie confirmed that Khunou and the municipality’s whip had submitted their resignations during a council sitting today. Mabale-Huma was elected for the second time following her resignation last Monday.
However, the opposition protested that the acting municipal manager presided over the proceedings despite his contract expiring at the end of September.
Mabale-Huma’s temporary stay from office had come on the back of the DA court application, which cited irregularities during the first council sitting, when the municipality’s top posts were filled in line with the results of the municipal elections.
The ANC made a clean sweep after it convinced the smaller Botho Community Movement and the African Independent Congress – each with one seat – to enter into a coalition government. An unidentified opposition councillor had also voted with the government party, giving it a narrow majority of three seats in council.
At the first sitting of any council, the speaker was the first to be elected and subsequently presided over the election of other positions, including that of the mayor and council whip, which meant that the municipality can be forced to rerun all positions if the alleged irregular election of the speaker was confirmed by a court.
The DA had alleged that Mabale-Huma was not lawfully elected because the presiding officer had not had the necessary authority. The party said that after the first round of the election ended in a tie, there should not have been an immediate rerun until the next sitting.
The ANC had needed only two more seats to take its tally in the council to the required majority of 45 seats, while both the Economic Freedom Fighters (24 seats) and the DA (14 seats) needed seven more seats to topple the governing party.