ANALYSIS | ANC and EFF need to follow due process with a little strategic flair to unseat Mokgalapa

2020-01-16 05:56
Stevens Mokgalapa (PHOTO: Morapedi Mashashe)

Stevens Mokgalapa (PHOTO: Morapedi Mashashe)

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The ANC and EFF in Tshwane will have a third bite at the cherry when they try to unseat DA mayor Stevens Mokgalapa on Thursday and, with their hand revealed, the parties will have to follow a democratic process with a little strategic flair to ensure the motion of no confidence succeeds.

In November 2019 it became apparent that the ANC and EFF entered into an agreement to unseat Mokgalapa, and by extension the DA, in the capital city.

During a council sitting in the same month, both the ANC and EFF brought motions of no confidence in the mayor.

But council speaker Katlego Mathebe disallowed the EFF motion, which was tabled first, on the basis of a technicality, saying that the EFF's reasons for the motion were not based on facts. The ANC motion was not heard because the party and the red berets staged a walkout.

The second attempt to unseat Mokgalapa was successful, albeit temporary. Mokgalapa was removed through the ANC’s motion during a special council sitting in December. Mathebe was also removed during the same meeting.

Both the ANC and EFF voted together, revealing that they would support one another, irrelevant of who brought the motion.

Legal challenge

But a day later, the DA, which did not vote, approached the court for an interim order suspending all the resolutions the Tshwane council passed after bringing into question the legality of the council meeting and contending that the ANC and EFF flouted lawful processes. The order was granted.

This included the forced removal of Zweli Khumalo, who was appointed in terms of a 2017 motion to act as the speaker in the event that Mathebe was unavailable or unable to perform her duties.

The DA's legal challenge is still before the court, but Judge Niel Tuchten noted that there was nothing stopping the ANC or the EFF from returning to the council with a fresh motion of no confidence in the interim.

The parties' third attempt will play out on Thursday after Mathebe granted a special council meeting.


Four motions of no confidence have been tabled. Mokgalapa, Mathebe, Khumalo and the chair of chairs all face the axe if the respective motions are put to a vote.

The motions against Mathebe and Khumalo are purely strategic because they will not be able chair the motions because of a conflict of interest.

This means that the acting city manager or the Office of the Cogta MEC will preside over the meeting, or will preside over the election of an acting speaker for the motions. Either way, with the ANC and EFF voting together, this gives them a distinct advantage at having their motions put to a vote.

Of course, the motions will have to be sound in law and the meeting will have to follow due process, eliminating another open window for a legal challenge on resolutions passed.

The numbers

If the ANC and EFF manage to get past the technicalities and procedures, their final hurdle will be an easy one because they have the numbers to control the council.

While it is unclear how many councillors will attend from each party, due to the nature of the meeting, it's fair to assume that all parties will ensure that most of their seats are filled.

The Tshwane council is made up of 214 seats.

The DA occupies 93 seats. Mokgalapa, however, has been placed on special leave amid a controversy relating to an audio clip, so the most seats the party can possibly fill is 92.

The ANC has 89 seats, while the EFF has 25.

The DA's formal coalition partners have six seats all together, with the FF Plus occupying four seats, and the ACDP and Cope occupying one each.

The PAC, which is unlikely to vote with the DA, also has one seat in the metro.

While it is impossible to predict how each councillor will vote on Thursday, it's safe to assume that most councillors, if not all, will toe the party line.

If the council sitting is quorate, meaning that at least 108 councillors are present, the requirement to either save Mokgalapa or remove him is 50% plus one of the council members present.

If the ANC and EFF vote together, based on the number of members they have, they will easily topple the DA coalition with their 114 members. The DA coalition, if it has a full house, only has 99 votes.

The PAC's one member won't change the outcome either way.

This is how the DA was originally able to snatch the metro in the 2016 local elections. Tshwane, like Johannesburg and Nelson Mandela Bay, did not receive an outright majority party win in the local government elections.

The EFF played kingmaker, giving the DA the majority and a mandate to rule the metros.

It is no secret that the EFF and DA relationship has broken down since then.

In 2018, the EFF showed that it could oust the DA from a metro after Athol Trollip was removed as mayor of Nelson Mandela Bay. Trollip's sacking meant that the ANC, EFF and UDM voted in favour of the motion of no confidence in him.

After Herman Mashaba stepped down as the mayor of Johannesburg, the EFF fielded and voted for its own candidate instead of backing the DA candidate as the party did in 2016. This allowed the ANC to reclaim Johannesburg through the mayoral election. 

The same pattern could play out in Tshwane if all their ducks are in a row. But first, the motions need to be heard.

Read more on:    da  |  anc  |  eff  |  stevens mokgalapa  |  pretoria  |  politics

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