Johannesburg - The City of Joburg managed to elect DA-led coalition government members to 16 Section 79 committee chairs despite chaos and songs erupting from opposition benches of the ANC and EFF on Thursday.
Chaos again erupted in the Joburg council chambers when members of the ANC and EFF took turns to sing while Council Speaker Vasco da Gama read out the names of the unopposed candidates who were nominated to serve on the various committees.
The total number of committees is 17 but only 16 were duly elected. In a dramatic move, the IFP suddenly withdrew its nomination for the chairperson of the municipal public accounts committee (MPAC) – an important committee which oversees the financial conduct of all municipal committees and officials. Da Gama indicated that they would open nomination for the chairperson of MPAC but notices would be issued to councillors ahead of the planned process.
On Thursday, however, ANC, Al Jama-ah and EFF councillors made failed bids to collapse the meeting. Initially, both ANC and EFF members tried to persuade the meeting not to adopt councillors’ minutes of a meeting dated January 13 and January 18. EFF’s Musa Novela argued that the minutes were not a true reflection of what transpired in the meeting, but councillors voted against his motion.
Despite challenging the minutes, the ANC and EFF, including minority parties such as AIC, UDM and the PAC, abstained from voting.
But it was clear from the early hours of the meeting that the opposition parties’ main aim was to force the council to postpone the elections and to reopen nomination. During the chaotic scenes, ActionSA president Herman Mashaba stood up and asked for a one-hour caucus for his party – which lasted longer.
On their return, ActionSA’s Fundi Ngobeni addressed the house and expressed their concern about Da Gama, saying his party was disappointed with his conduct in that he allegedly went to a meeting with the Gauteng MEC for Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs Lebogang Maile and he promised him that he would reopen nominations.
But ActionSA calmed down after Da Gama insisted that only the people who accepted nomination for the 17 committee chairs would be considered in the voting on Thursday with the ANC and the EFF withdrawing their candidates for all positions including that of chair of chairs, which went to Cope’s caucus leader Colleen Makhubele.
This irked ANC caucus leader Mpho Moerane who stood up and said: “As the ANC we are very disappointed. We are going to challenge these elections even if we can go to court.”
Afterwards one of the ANC councillors called out Da Gama and said: “You’re a crook.”
The EFF also referred to Da Gama as “a crook” but did that in song. In another bid to disrupt the elections, EFF chief whip Nonhlanhla Radebe claimed that she was given the wrong nomination forms to contest for the chair of chairs. Radebe was initially the EFF’s candidate for the chair of chairs contesting Makhubele.
She claimed that “there was a lot of irregularities”.
Radebe also claimed that the election of Makhubele was fraudulent despite the fact that her party withdrew her nomination after their motion for a secret ballot was rejected.
But Da Gama stood firm and allowed elections to continue, but some ANC councillors and all EFF members opted to sing in their bid to disrupt the proceedings. All of them ignored warnings by Da Gama that they were in contempt of the council.
Despite the singing and dancing, the DA-led coalition government managed to go ahead with elections and chose their nominees to the important council committee.
The conduct of opposition parties contradicted a statement issued by MEC Maile about his meeting with Da Gama and political parties represented in council on Wednesday.
Maile issued a statement saying: “The participants engaged robustly and honestly in a cordial and respectful manner. After all parties made their submissions and after duly considering same, the meeting agreed, as a collective, among others, that parties in council are willing to make compromises on their different views on inter alia the voting procedure to be adopted when council elects the chairpersons of the various portfolio committees, parties will refrain from any unbecoming conduct, especially conduct that may result in violence, that only councillors duly elected to the municipal council will be allowed in council chambers, and that the decorum of council will at all times be maintained.”