Court throws out Afco bid for interdict against BCM over ward funds

The One South Africa Movement (OSA) leader Mmusi Maimane and OSA Eastern Cape coordinator Themba Wele addressed the organisations members in East London on Thursday evening.
The One South Africa Movement (OSA) leader Mmusi Maimane and OSA Eastern Cape coordinator Themba Wele addressed the organisations members in East London on Thursday evening.
Image: BHONGO JACOB

The African Federal Convention failed to persuade the East London high court to grant it an interdict compelling Buffalo City Metro to stop distributing R1m ward allocation funds.

Afco had approached the court complaining that ward 46 councillor Nceba Kilimani had not accounted to residents for how BCM's R700,000 allocation was spent in the 2018/19 financial year. The ward allocations were increased to R1m in 2019/2020.

Afco deputy president Themba Wele, who has since defected to Mmusi Maimane’s One SA movement, said they had taken the legal route after unsuccessfully trying to get then council speaker Alfred Mtsi to intervene.

However, judge Belinda Hartle dismissed their application with costs. She described it as “oddly formulated”, saying it was “all over the place”.

“Airy fairy allegations are no basis to ground an application for an interdict,” she said..

While Afco took aim in respect of how ward money was spent in ward 46, the court found the party’s action would interdict the community development goals of all ward councillors.

Hartle criticised counsel for Afco advocate Madukuda’s statement that the allocation of ward money had led to “life-threatening disputes among community members”.

She also found Afco’s attorneys, Sipho Klaas Attorneys, had been “hugely irresponsible” in how they had litigated, not being bothered “to even deal with the basic principles of law or the rules of this court in making out a case”.

Afco also wanted councillors to provide audit reports on how the ward budgets for the previous year had been spent and give guidelines on fund utilisation of the further ward allocations.

Wele alleged he had instructed his attorneys to communicate with Mtsi’s to try to intervene in the issue, “but with no luck”.

However, attached to his affidavit were one letter written to the municipality by the attorneys on behalf of “the community members” of ward 46 and another written “on behalf of the members of the executive of Orange Groove” (sic).

Hartle said the connection between the party and disgruntled members of ward 46 was not clear.

“Wele resides in Orange Grove, but he never claims to be affected in his personal capacity. The further fact that he is the deputy president of the party and coincidentally a ward resident also does not automatically establish an interest on the part of [Afco] in bringing these proceedings.”

Wele had provided no party resolution authorising him to bring the application, and the party had not “asserted a clearly discernible injury or right ... which has been infringed”.

The court found there was no substance to Afco’s “bald and vague complaints” that ward residents were deprived of the opportunity to decide what initiatives ought to be supported.

BCM argued that Afco, which has no representation in the metro council, had no legal interest in initiating the court action. It also denied that councillors were responsible for management of the ward allocation budget. — DDR

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