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EFF guns for Tshwane speaker Katlego Mathebe over virtual public meetings

Tshwane speaker Katlego Mathebe. Picture: Oupa Mokoena/African News Agency (ANA)

Tshwane speaker Katlego Mathebe. Picture: Oupa Mokoena/African News Agency (ANA)

Published Jan 5, 2022

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Pretoria - A fight is looming between the EFF and Tshwane Council speaker Katlego Mathebe over a decision by the latter to convene virtual public meetings to deliberate on a contentious issue of revised ward committee by-laws.

The EFF has expressed unhappiness that the meetings scheduled for next week would exclude the majority of its constituencies, which have no access to the internet.

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It is expected that the revised ward committee by-laws will pave a way for the election of ward committees, which was put in abeyance in 2016 during the DA-led administration.

Failure by the DA to facilitate the elections of ward committees for years had constantly put Mathebe under fire from the EFF and ANC.

At some stage the EFF tabled a motion of no confidence in Mathebe in a bid to remove her from office. The motion was, however, unsuccessful.

Yesterday the party’s regional chairperson, Obakeng Ramabodu, called on Mathebe to withdraw the notice of invitation with immediate effect and postpone the meetings. He said the postponement would allow the EFF “to properly advise the municipal council sitting on this cardinal issue”.

“Failure to do that the EFF will embark on a guerrilla visit to the speaker’s office to demand answers within five days,” he said.

According to Ramabodu, the party has established that about 70% of the wards (as newly demarcated) have no access to internet facilities, especially where the population was predominantly black. “The draft by-law on ward committees issued in 2017 has not been made available to the black communities throughout the regions of Tshwane,” he said.

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He cited that residents in townships such as Hammanskraal, Ekangala, Rethabiseng, Mabopane, Olievenhoutbosch, Mshongoville, Mavuso and many others were still to receive the draft.

According to a notice issued by Mathebe, the meetings would “ensure maximum participation by Tshwane residents and free and fair nomination and election process”.

The notice also said copies of the revised by-laws will be available on the city’s website and at the city’s customer care centres and municipal libraries.

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The meetings are planned to take place virtually on February 12 and 15.

At the time of going to publication the speaker’s office was yet to respond to issues raised by the EFF.

Three years ago, the Section 79 committee overseeing ward committees undertook a by-laws review process and discovered a technical problem regarding the qualification of candidates who may stand for elections.

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The by-law in question was unclear as to whether people from outside the ward could stand for elections or not.

The review was meant to avoid a repeat of what transpired in 2014, when the DA took on the then ANC-led administration over the unconstitutionality of the ward committee by-law.

The Gauteng High Court, Pretoria, then rendered the elections, which had already taken place in 2012, null and void.

Pretoria News

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