Blame game over Joburg council sitting chaos, criminal case to be opened

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ANC and EFF members singing during the Johannesburg council sitting on Thursday.
ANC and EFF members singing during the Johannesburg council sitting on Thursday.
ZIntle Mahlati, News24
  • The first sitting of the Johannesburg council descended into chaos on Thursday.
  • Councillors argued over the voting procedure for the Section 79 chairperson positions.
  • The EFF, ANC and DA blamed each other for not fulfilling the council's agenda. 

A blame game has ensued between the DA, ANC and the EFF following a chaotic sitting of a City of Johannesburg council meeting, which ended in a stalemate on Thursday night. 

The council sitting, which began at 10:00 on Thursday, saw arguments between the ANC, EFF and the DA-led coalition partnership about voting procedure. 

The speaker of the council, Vasco da Gama, had to call councillors to order as arguments repeatedly ensued. 

Da Gama angered the EFF and the ANC when he said the council rule book did not allow for voting in a secret ballot. 

The sitting's agenda was to elect the chair of chairs and chairpersons to head up Section 79 committees. 

The ANC and the EFF had ambitions for some of its members to lead the oversight committees, while the DA-led coalition partners had members they wished to see head up those roles. 

READ | ANC, EFF councillors disrupt City of Joburg council sitting in battle over voting procedures

News24 understands that the ANC had met with smaller political parties regarding a voting bloc. A secret ballot would work to conceal the names behind the votes. 

While deciding on which voting procedure should be followed, the ANC and the EFF refused to listen to Da Gama.

ANC and EFF councillors sang throughout the remainder of the council sitting until it was adjourned. 

Da Gama said that some council officials and councillors were allegedly manhandled during the meeting and would lay criminal charges against the ANC and the EFF. 

Da Gama said he was appalled by the behaviour of ANC and EFF councillors. He insisted that the Municipal Structures Act 1998 did not allow chairperson positions to be elected through a secret ballot. 

ALSO READ | Joburg council sitting signals tough road ahead for mayor Phalatse

The speaker, the mayor and chief whip of the council could be elected through a secret ballot, Da Gama said.

The recent amendments to the Municipal Structures Act made a provision to the chief whip of council to be elected in accordance with schedule 2. This was provided for in the section 41A(4) of the Municipal Structures Amendment Act.

"In so far as the election of chairpersons of committees in terms of section 79 of the Structures Act, their election procedure was not in terms of schedule 3, which provided for a secret ballot; hence the voting on election processes were conducted in council," Da Gama said on Friday. 

Difference of opinion

Meanwhile, the EFF said it would not be bullied by Da Gama, and the party had insisted a secret ballot was allowed. 

EFF Joburg caucus leader Sepetlele Raseruthe told News24 that the chaos at the sitting was of Da Gama's making. 

He said:

The speaker must come back and show us a document that will convince us of his position. All we want is the best service for the people of Joburg. We voted for the DA just for the city to run, expecting nothing in return. We are not willing to [accept] the speaker's common sense. We cannot allow that.

Raseruthe said the rule book was silent on the matter of a secret ballot. 

The ANC also blamed the DA. 

The party's caucus leader and former Joburg mayor Mpho Moerane said the DA continued undermining democratic processes. 

"The tyranny elements of the Democratic Alliance continue to undermine and bring mockery to the national struggle for liberation, democratic processes and seeks to deny the residents of Johannesburg service delivery and accountability. To this end, the ANC condemns the actions of the Democratic Alliance with absolute contempt, and their erosion of capacity at the expense of the residents of Johannesburg," Moerane said.

Following the municipal elections in 2021, no political party had won an outright majority. The DA was able to cobble a partnership with other political parties to run a majority government in Johannesburg. 

The next council sitting was scheduled for next Tuesday. 

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