After six failed council meetings in the embattled City of Tshwane, the MEC for cooperative governance and traditional affairs (Cogta) Lebogang Maile has decided to take the matter to the national leadership.
“I do not want to pre-empt decisions because we know that there are legal implications. We are dealing with a highly regulated sphere of the government. We will look at the law and act, but in the process we want to meet the national Cogta minister, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, before we can decide on what action to take,” Maile told City Press.
Tshwane has been left without any leadership: there is no mayor and no municipal manager, and there are no members of mayoral committees.
The EFF and ANC were a no-show at a special council meeting that was scheduled to take place on Friday.
It was meant to extend Augustine Makgata’s period of service as the acting municipal manager.
Not enough councillors were present to form a quorum as only 54 of the 92 DA council members attended the meeting.
A total of 108 councillors needed to be at the sitting for a decision to be made about Makgata.
Mike Moriarty, the DA’s chairperson in Gauteng, said there was nothing sinister about some of its members being absent.
“The meeting was scheduled at extremely short notice for councillors because many of them have jobs. If all parties had similar numbers of people in attendance to those of the DA, then the crucial item on the agenda, regarding extending the acting city manager’s appointment, could have been passed,” he said.
ANC caucus leader Kgosi Maepa also said it was short notice for the speaker [DA member Katlego Mathebe] to call a council meeting in less than 12 hours.
“The ANC caucus has just received notice of an urgent meeting of council. We are expected by the DA speaker to be there at 3pm today [Friday]. Is this fair to councillors? Is this realistic? Is she desperate or a bully?” Maepa said.
The resignation of former mayor Stevens Mokgalapa took effect on Wednesday.
It was expected that a new mayor would be elected the next day.
But this not materialise because of a decision by the ANC and EFF to walk out of the sitting.
Both parties had vowed on Thursday that they would not participate in the special council meeting until Mathebe resigned from her post.
Moriarty told City Press that calls for Mathebe’s resignation were a hoax as she had done nothing wrong.
“The ANC’s national head office instructed its councillors to collapse the meeting by any means in order to buy more time to negotiate with the EFF. The meeting would have collapsed anyway. It is not us who failed to put citizens first,” he said.
The Congress of the People (Cope) agreed that Mathebe was not to blame for the chaos that has occurred in the Tshwane council since last year.
In a letter written to all the caucuses, Cope councillor Selata Nkwane noted with concern that Mathebe’s name was being “used as a political football, and this is affecting governance and service delivery to the citizens of Tshwane”.
Nkwane wrote that in order for the speaker to be “saved from further humiliation by the ANC and the EFF, without prejudice,” she should be redeployed to another position.
Nkwane then suggested that Tshwane adopt a government of national unity, whereby all the parties represented in council would participate in governing the city for the next 18 months leading up to the 2021 local government elections.
“Let the party that got the highest votes in 2016 be allowed to choose the mayor to lead the executive, but still share the MMC positions with other parties on a pro rata basis. The second-biggest party can choose the speaker to lead the legislature, but still share 16 oversight committees on a pro rata basis. The position of chief whip of council can be given to the third-largest party in council,” the letter read.
While acknowledging the EFF’s desire to lead in Tshwane, Nkwane said it could not be handed to the party on a silver platter.
“Also,” he wrote, “we do realise that in the past three and a half years, the EFF has proven to be a bad and toxic partner. We would be better off with the ANC rather than the EFF.”
But the ANC’s Maepa said the governing party was not interested in leading Tshwane, adding that it would rather wait for the 2021 local elections to reclaim it.
“The ANC in Tshwane remains the opposition party there. The DA told South Africans when it won control of three metros [via coalitions] in the 2016 local government elections that it governs well. Why doesn’t it go ahead and do the same in Tshwane? The DA must leave the ANC as the opposition and govern in Tshwane. It won in 2016. The ANC will wait for 2021,” Maepa said.
Political journalist | City Press
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