High court to hear urgent plea today
DEMOCRATIC Alliance Eastern Cape leader Athol Trollip will today go to court to fight a decision to fine and suspend him from the Eastern Cape Legislature.
Trollip said in court papers he had been severely embarrassed by the action taken against him and also faced possible financial embarrassment due to being fined a month’s salary.He said his credibility as a political leader had been dented along with his dignity.
Trollip had become so stressed he had resorted to medical intervention. His family had also been deeply affected by his unlawful suspension and the national press reports that followed.
“This has had a serious effect on my home and family life which is simply not to be tolerated and which is inexcusable.”
The legislature’s ethics committee last week found him guilty of bringing the institution into disrepute because it said he failed to apologise for implying that premier Phumulo Masualle was a “liar and cheat” – something Trollip denied ever doing.
Trollip had claimed that questions he submitted to the legislature on the transfer of hundreds of thousands of rands of provincial government funds into Masualle’s personal account had been edited and “sanitised” to deflect attention from Masualle.
Masualle then complained to legislature Speaker Noxolo Kiviet that Trollip’s comments implied he was “a liar and cheat” and demanded Trollip apologise.
Trollip said there had been no intention to malign him and refused to give an unconditional apology.
Trollip said gross irregularities characterised the manner in which the ethics committee handled his subsequent hearing and he was never afforded a reasonable opportunity to prepare for it.
Deputy speaker Bulelwa Tunyiswa, who last week informed him of his suspension and fine in the legislature, also chaired the ethics committee which found him guilty.
“This was a clear conflict and for this reason alone she should not have conducted the session in which I was suspended and fined,” said Trollip in his affidavit.
He further alleges that several people had been overheard to say after Masualle’s complaint that they would “get him” in the ethics committee.
Today Trollip is to ask the Grahamstown High Court to suspend the decision to fine and suspend him pending the outcome of his court application to have the decisions reviewed and set aside in their entirety.
The court will hear today’s application on an urgent basis. He says if it is not heard urgently, he will miss the opportunity of being part of “taking the legislature to the people” in Burgersdorp next week.
Trollip’s attorney Brin Brody yesterday also warned that his client would, down the line, “consider recourse against those who have flouted parliamentary rules and protocols”.
Advocate Izak Smuts, SC, instructed by Brody, will argue the matter on behalf of Trollip and the DA.
It was not immediately clear whether or not the speaker, deputy speaker or premier’s office would oppose the urgent application. — Adrienne Carlisle