PLETTENBERG BAY NEWS - Bitou's former deputy mayor Adam van Rhyner has officially been expelled from The Congress of the People (COPE).
Van Rhyner was voted in as deputy mayor after the 2011 local government elections as part of a coalition agreement between the Democratic Alliance (DA) and COPE.
On June 20 last year, Van Rhyner broke this agreement when he backed six ANC councillors of Bitou who submitted a request to convene a special council meeting during which they wanted to pass a vote of no confidence in the mayor Memory Booysen, deputy mayor (Van Rhyner) and speaker, Annalise Olivier. Olivier made an urgent high court application to prevent the seven councillors from convening said meeting. The seven submitted a counter-application and Judge Patric Gamble postponed the hearing until July 29.
COPE also filed disciplinary charges against Van Rhyner. He was charged with breach of party agreements and decisions for his actions in aligning himself with the ANC and thereby causing "a strain in the coalition arrangement between COPE and the DA in the municipality of Bitou". He was also charged with insubordination and contempt to party structures.
On June 30, the IEC was notified by the Bitou municipal manager, Alan Paulse, of a vacancy in the Bitou Municipal Council in terms of Section 18 (1)(b) of the Local Government: Municipal Structures Act 117 of 1998, following receipt of a letter notifying him of Van Rhyner's expulsion from COPE.
Van Rhyner's fight to stay in the deputy mayor's chair continued, but on December 10 Paulse received a letter from COPE's general secretary, Lyndall Shope-Mafole, informing him that the COPE National Committee had upheld the recommendation of the appeals committee to expel Van Rhyner from the party.
Shope-Mafole wrote: "The implication of this decision is that Mr Van Rhyner ceases to be a member of COPE with immediate effect and may no longer be the representative of the party in the Bitou Municipality."
On Monday, January 19, Paulse explained that COPE will have to name its new proportional member to fill the vacancy in the council. According to the DA/ COPE agreement, the new member must also be sworn in as deputy mayor. Paulse said: "It will be assumed that the new COPE councillor will be the deputy mayor and be sworn in on January 28.
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