Round one to Nonkonyana in fight to regain chair of traditional leaders house

Ousted provincial House of Traditional Leaders chair Nkosi Mwelo Nonkonyana has drawn first blood in his legal bid to remain in office.
Ousted provincial House of Traditional Leaders chair Nkosi Mwelo Nonkonyana has drawn first blood in his legal bid to remain in office.
Image: LULAMILE FENI

Ousted provincial House of Traditional Leaders chair Nkosi Mwelo Nonkonyana has drawn first blood in his legal bid to remain in office.

On Monday he successfully applied for an interim order at the Bhisho high court interdicting his colleagues from electing his successor.

A ruling on finalisation of the order is expected on August 25.

Nonkonyana was removed from office on August 31 through a vote of no confidence for allegedly bringing the ECHTL into disrepute by breaking national lockdown regulations.

Judge Nozuko Mjali also interdicted premier Oscar Mabuyane, co-operative governance & traditional affairs MEC Xolile Nqatha and ECHTL acting chair Nkosi Langa Mavuso from evicting Nonkonyana from his state house at Clubview in King William's Town.

The state and the ECHTL decided not to challenge the order.

Mavuso said Nonkonyana's interim order was no surprise, but a formalised agreement between lawyers of all parties” was needed “to ensure that nobody divert from the agreement.

In their letter of demand, Nonkonyana's lawyers also wanted Cogta to continue paying him his chairmanship remuneration and that he retain his state vehicle and some other benefits. This the state refused.

Parties only agreed on delaying election of a new chair and allowing him occupation of the state house pending the outcome of the main application, hence the unchallenged interim order

Parties only agreed on delaying election of a new chair and allowing him occupation of the state house pending the outcome of the main application, hence the unchallenged interim order, said Mavuso.

In his court papers, Nonkonyana accused Mavuso of unlawfully allowing the motion that ousted him.

My removal was both procedurally and substantively flawed. I am sure the court will review and set aside the unconstitutional decision. The house acted illegally, said Nonkonyana.

But Mavuso laughed off the claims, saying Nonkonyana had presided over the sitting that saw him removed.

He even participated in the voting and other deliberations. All along it was a legal sitting until the outcome of voting, then the sitting and the procedure became illegal? It can't be,” he told the Dispatch.

Nonkonyana's removal does not affect his position as Contralesa provincial chair, where Mavuso is his deputy.

Among reasons for Nonkonyana's dismissal were allegations that he was divisive and, despite being a full-time chair, that he continued practising full-time as an advocate. He is also accused of negative interference in royal family matters by taking sides, consequently fuelling infighting and forfeiting the  confidence of royal families in the ECHTL as a neutral arbitrator on claims and disputes, including royal succession.

Nonkonyana dismissed these allegation false and baseless, saying he closed his legal practice in 2017 when he became ECHTL chair.

On May 11, Nqatha lifted Nonkonyana's suspension on the allegation of contravening lockdown laws. Because no charges were laid against him, the house had no right to pursue it”, he said.

Meanwhile, Kgomotso Libenye was elected this week as the house's new leader, replacing Vuyani Gwebindlala, who was removed through a vote of no confidence on the same day that Nonkonyana was.

Nokwandisa Kama was voted off the executive and Luyanda Matanzima on to it.


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