ANC in Limpopo applies for leave to appeal court decision in Lepelle-Nkumpi Mayor matter

LIMPOPO- The African National Congress in Limpopo has applied for leave to appeal the Polokwane High Court’s ruling that the appointment of Lepelle-Nkumpi Mayor, Meriam Molala, was invalid and unlawful. The court ruled in favour of local ANC member Lehlaga Mphahlele, who contested Molala’s nomination as a councillor.

Mphahlele says Molala replaced him on the party’s nomination list after the 2016 local government elections. She was then appointed mayor.

In its ruling, the Polokwane High Court declared Molala’s appointment as both mayor and ANC councillor in the Lepelle Nkumpi municipality unlawful.

Judge Violet Semenya ordered that the complainant, Mphahlele, be nominated as the designate councillor.

The ANC was ordered to recognise him as the next candidate according to its 2016 election nomination list. However, ANC provincial spokesperson Donald Selamolela says Molala remains the mayor pending their appeal process.

“I must confirm that our lawyers are appealing the matter. They have already served the court with a notice to request leave to appeal the matter and we can confirm that, as the matter stands, the mayor of Lepelle-Nkumpi remains the mayor. There is no change that we will be effecting until such a time that this matter is finally resolved by the courts of law. We are confident as the ANC through the advise of our lawyers that we stand a very good chance to have the matter resolved in our favour if we appeal the matter.”

Mphahlele says according to the election list he was to be nominated as a councillor should there be a vacancy in the municipality. He says when that happened, Meriam Molala was nominated instead. She was later appointed mayor when former mayor Nakedi Sibanda-Kekana resigned during the VBS scandal.

Mphahlele says he sought relief from the court when the ANC failed to attend to his concerns.

“I approached the ANC. I wanted to know why I was overlooked because I was the next in line to be a councillor, but they ignored all my letters. During the 2016 local government elections, I was number 11 on the party list. After the elections, the ANC got 10 seats. So, on the remaining portion of the list, I then became number one. The ANC, in particular Peter Mokaba region, they picked the mayor, she was not even on the original list.”

Mphahlele adds that the ANC failed to make its intentions to change the list within the 21 days as prescribed by the IEC when a vacancy for a councillor arises. He says he was illegally replaced after 60 days.

“Item 18 of Schedule 1 of local government municipal structural act provides that the chief electoral officer must declare the person who is on top of the list in the event that there is a vacancy, but that is subject to item 20. Item 20 says a party can change or increase or supplement its list. But then it sets a procedure, the party must do that within 21 days.”

Meanwhile, in a similar case, the ANC is yet to implement a 2019 Johannesburg High Court order related to the deployment of one of its Limpopo members, Ponani Makhubela, to the National Council of Provinces.

Makhubela took the party to court after her name was removed from the list of members going to Parliament shortly after the last general elections. The ANC lost its application for leave to appeal. Selamolela says the province is still awaiting a decision from Luthuli House.