Battle for Joburg: DA raises ire of ANC as it walks out of council meeting

2020-01-30 22:40
City of Johannesburg speaker Vasco Da Gama. (Felix Dlangamandla, Gallo Images, Beeld, file)

City of Johannesburg speaker Vasco Da Gama. (Felix Dlangamandla, Gallo Images, Beeld, file)

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A blame game is playing itself out between the DA and ANC in Johannesburg after the collapse of a council meeting on Thursday.

The disagreement stems from the contested status of speaker Vasco da Gama, with the DA accusing the ANC of engaging in "thuggish and undemocratic tactics".

In turn, the ANC condemned the "undemocratic actions" of the DA, saying it "sought to undermine the democratic outcomes of the council of Johannesburg".

In December, the DA said the council had approved the minutes in which a motion of no confidence against Da Gama was debated.

According to the DA, the minutes reflected that the acting speaker, Alex Christians, ruled that the motion against Da Gama had passed, ousting him as speaker, and objections were raised from the DA and EFF regarding this.

But after legal consultations, Christians concluded the motion had failed, meaning Da Gama was staying on, the DA said, adding the ANC had ignored this.

"The ANC engaged in thuggish and undemocratic tactics by deliberately ignoring the acting speaker's final ruling which was today affirmed by [the] council," the DA said.

The party maintained the motion against Da Gama had failed and "rejected the manner in which the ANC has violated all council processes to steal the legislature".

The DA added it therefore did not recognise the current speaker, Nonceba Molwele, who was elected shortly after the motion of no confidence against Da Gama.

"That council has approved the minutes is a clear indication that it accepts the sequence and veracity of events that unfolded in that meeting which resulted in the [motion of no confidence] failing and Da Gama retaining his speakership."

At a council meeting on Thursday, the DA resolved to walk out, saying the meeting was being presided over by an "illegitimate speaker".

"If the ANC is allowed to flout council rules and bully its way into power, it will effectively render our council rules and the law null and void."

The DA said it had conceded defeat to the ANC when Mayor Geoff Makhubo was elected, and the issue was not about "holding onto power".

"We did so because we respect democratic processes and seek to maintain the integrity of [the] council," the party said.

But the ANC is of the view that democratic processes "delivered a new city government of local unity".

It said the DA walk-out was an indication the party was not, in fact, democratic.

"The disruption of [the] council by the DA is again evidence that those who previously led the City are unable to adhere to democratic values and are unprepared to work for the people of Johannesburg and their development," the ANC said in a statement on Thursday.

The party reiterated its confidence in the current speaker, saying the DA had numerous opportunities to raise red flags.

"Since the election of the speaker on December 11, 2020, the DA has had numerous opportunities to contest whatever legal issues it wanted to raise on the council meeting and election of the speaker.

"Their failure to do so reflects their disregard for legislation that governs [the] council.

"We view this as a deliberate act of sabotage to disrupt services that are critical and required by citizens, especially in majority African areas," the ANC said.

Read more on:    da  |  anc  |  vasca da gama  |  johanesburg  |  politics
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