Mokgalapa no confidence motion in numbers: Does ANC hold the power to unseat Tshwane mayor?

City of Tshwane Mayor Stevens Mokgalapa (Tshidi Madia, News24)
City of Tshwane Mayor Stevens Mokgalapa (Tshidi Madia, News24)

If the ANC and EFF vote together on a motion of no confidence against City of Tshwane Mayor Stevens Mokgalapa, he will most likely not survive the chop. While this could be a blessing in disguise for the DA, it will most likely only be a temporary one.

The EFF in Tshwane submitted an urgent motion of no confidence against Mokgalapa, the party announced on Tuesday. On Wednesday, the ANC submitted the same motion of its own.

Among the reasons for its motion, the EFF cited the escalating water crisis in the capital city and continuous power outages for residents of Laudium, Atteridgeville, Mamelodi and Soshanguve.

EFF spokesperson Mbuyiseni Ndlozi added that Mokgalapa is woefully incapable of providing the leadership required for a complex metropolitan council such as Tshwane.

The ANC said its motion was necessary because of the recent Tshwane property tender scandal as well as the ongoing water crisis in Hammanskraal.

"Residents of Tshwane have suffered long enough under the Democratic Alliance-led government's failed leadership experiments," the ANC said in a statement. 

Provided that the motion complies with council rules, the EFF will still need the ANC caucus to vote with them and vice versa, if they are to successfully remove Mokgalapa.

The party had the same motion against former Tshwane mayor Solly Msimanga, disallowed by speaker Katlego Mathebe on a technicality in 2018.

While both parties have submitted motions, the EFF motion should be heard first. If the ANC votes on the EFF’s motion, or the EFF vote on the ANC's motion, the likely outcome will not favour the DA mayor.

While the exact number of councillors that will be attending the sitting on Thursday has not been finalised, a look at the number of seats held by each party paints a grim picture for Mokgalapa if the ANC back the EFF motion.

The Tshwane council is made up of 214 seats. The DA presently occupies 93 seats. Mokgalapa, however, has been placed on special leave amid the audio recording controversy, so the most seats the party can possibly fill is 92.

The ANC has a total of 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 one each.

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

While it is difficult to calculate how each councillor will vote, and how many councillors from each party will be present, assuming that parties will vote along the party’s decision and that the majority of members pitch, the absolute numbers do show the most likely outcome.  

If the council sitting is quorate, meaning that there will have to be at least 108 councillors present at the sitting, then 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 total number of members, they would easily topple the DA collation with their 114 members. The DA coalition, if they have a full house, only have 99 votes.

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

This is how the DA was originally able to snatch the metro in the 2016 local elections, with the EFF playing kingmaker in their favour, giving them the majority.

This time, though, it was the EFF who brought the motion, which is unsurprising given the collapse in the relationship between the EFF and the DA in recent times.

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

While there can be no certainty on what happens on the day, if either motion is successful, it may be a relief for the DA, but only in the short term.

The motion of no confidence could solve the DA's current conundrum after Mokgalapa was placed on special leave pending an investigation following the release of an audio recording purportedly of him engaging in an intimate act with his transport MMC Sheila Senkubuge.

The DA did refer the matter to the party's Federal Legal Commission for further investigation, while News24 previously reported that the speaker has also referred the matter to the Ethics Committee for further investigation.

If Mokgalapa is removed through the motion, the investigations and recommendations would prove immaterial, which would be one less headache for the DA to deal with.

However, if Mokgalapa is removed, this will pave the way for a new mayor in the metro, and if the DA are to field a candidate and be successful in the appointment of that candidate, they again, will have to barter with the EFF for their support.

This wouldn't be taking into consideration that the ANC and EFF may also have brokered a backroom deal, which may include who will run Johannesburg and who will take Tshwane.

Negotiations between the DA and the EFF may prove even more difficult than in 2016, as EFF leader Julius Malema was recently reported to have said they would give full control to whichever party votes them into power in Johannesburg.

Following Herman Mashaba’s stepping down as mayor of Joburg, the race is also on in the economic hub for a new mayor and for the first time, the EFF have put forward a candidate for the metro. This vote is also expected to take place on Thursday.

So assuming that Mokgalapa does not survive the motion, the DA may have no other choice but to vote for the EFF candidate in Johannesburg as a last-ditch attempt at retaining Tshwane.

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