The DA’s federal legal commission has recommended that former member of the mayoral committee of finance in Johannesburg Rabelani Dagada’s membership be terminated after he failed to toe the party line at a council meeting last month.
DA councillors had been instructed by caucus to vote in favour of the appointment of an acting building inspector for the city. The commission was not satisfied with reasons advanced by Dagada about why his membership should not be rescinded. Among other reasons, Dagada said the DA could not expect him to vote for an unlawful act, so he opted to vote with his conscience.
The final decision must be endorsed by the party’s federal executive, which could choose whether to comply with the advice from the legal body.
Dagada is already gearing up for war, saying that he is ready to take his case to the highest court in the land, where he will argue that the party’s constitution is in violation of the country’s Constitution because it puts the party position above that of the needs of the constituencies it serves.
“If the federal executive confirms termination of my membership, I will approach the Constitutional Court for direct access to get my membership reinstated and to retain my position as a PR [proportional representative] councillor,” he said.
In his submission to the federal legal commission, Dagada’s lawyers write that the Constitution does not compel public representatives to vote according to the will of their political parties.
What sparked the ire of DA members and led to a complaint against Dagada was the May 8 special council meeting at which a report for the appointment of Heather Trumble as an acting building control officer was unsuccessfully tabled in council for approval.
Three weeks earlier, the city’s building controller, Azwindini Mulaudzi, who served under the ANC administration, was suspended over various allegations of misconduct, including the irregular issuing of notices.
Dagada cited mayor Herman Mashaba’s “pattern of deliberately breaching legislation, City of Johannesburg policies and DA policies”.
However, Mashaba, through his spokesperson Luvuyo Mfeka, said Dagada was a disgraced former member of the mayoral committee whose allegations should be taken with a pinch of salt.
However, it is understood that Dagada is trying to smoke a peace pipe with the DA and wants to negotiate a settlement. This could see him relinquish his position quietly to “save the party some embarrassment and escalating legal costs”.
Dagada has proposed that all charges be withdrawn against him, that his suspension from caucus be lifted and for the DA to scrap disciplinary proceedings against him and allow the city council, with the integrity commissioner and the council’s ethics committee, to consider and fast-track the conclusion of allegations that formed the basis for his axing from his position.