Mpumalanga admits swearing in of acting premier was unconstitutional

The DA’s Jane Sithole. Image: Lowvelder.

The DA’s Jane Sithole. Image: Lowvelder.

The DA claims that Refilwe Mtsweni’s appointment on David Mabuza’s instruction was in contravention of the constitution.

The DA says the Mpumalanga Provincial Legislature admitted to the DA today that the swearing in of Refilwe Mtsweni as acting premier on Tuesday was in violation of the Constitution, Lowvelder reports.

The DA’s Jane Sithole said in a statement that former premier David Mabuza was not at liberty to appoint an acting premier in a position he no longer held.

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He resigned as premier after being appointed deputy president of the country by Cyril Ramaphosa on Monday. He was sworn in as a member of parliament and deputy president on Tuesday afternoon.

“According to Speaker Thandi Shongwe, Mabuza tendered his resignation on February 26, and later gave the Speaker a letter of appointment to appoint Mtsweni as acting premier of the province,” Sithole said.

She said it contravened Section 131 of the Constitution which details the steps that must be followed should a premier be absent or otherwise unable to fulfil the duties of the Office of the Premier.

In this case, Mabuza had resigned and did not have the authority to decide who must fill the vacancy that he has left.

“It also provides for members of the executive council to appoint the acting premier but clearly this is not what happened as the Speaker stated that there was a letter of appointment from a person who had resigned,” Sithole added.

The DA pointed out that, since Mtsweni was not acting premier at the time of the state of the province debate in the legislature on Tuesday afternoon, this will have to be repeated once an acting premier had been elected and sworn in.

Spokesman for the Office of the Premier, Zibonele Mncwango, responded that the Mpumalanga government’s executive committee in fact elected Mtsweni as acting premier on Wednesday.

He could not confirm the details of her presumed second swearing in.

Sithole said that the office of the chief whip had telephonically informed her that the debate was likely to have to be repeated.

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