'We just wanted her to have a nice Christmas': Opposition parties say Joburg mayor safe until January

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Joburg Mayor Mpho Phalatse and opposition leader Dada Morero speak ahead of the motion of no confidence in the mayor.
Joburg Mayor Mpho Phalatse and opposition leader Dada Morero speak ahead of the motion of no confidence in the mayor.
PHOTO: Alex Patrick/News24
  • Johannesburg opposition parties say there will be a new motion of no confidence in the mayor in January.
  • Executive Mayor Mpho Phalatse survived two motions against her on Thursday.
  • This was the last ordinary sitting of the Joburg council this year.

"We just wanted her to have a nice Christmas," Johannesburg ANC leader Dada Morero laughed when asked why the opposition coalition withdrew two motions of no confidence (MONC) against the Johannesburg mayor.

Now, opposition parties look forward to January when they say they will bring a fresh MONC against her. 

On Thursday evening, Mpho Phalatse survived the motions brought by the opposition minority parties. 

Two other coalition councillors, Nakita Dellwaria from the DA and Lerato Ngobeni from ActionSA, also survived as motions against them were withdrawn.

Thursday marked the end of the two-day ordinary council sitting. It was also the final sitting of the council, which goes on recess on 8 December.

Morero, the ANC Johannesburg chair, spoke after the council meeting ended on Thursday.

At noon, he said the opposition received word from their leaders that they should withdraw the motions while the ANC and the EFF sort out their issues.

The two parties had a falling out after the failed MONC in the Ekurhuleni mayor. The issues between them arose over who should lead the metro. 

The disagreement resulted in the DA's Tania Campbell taking back her seat as mayor.

On Thursday, ANC Ekurhuleni regional chairperson Mzwandile Masina resigned as a councillor.

READ | Mzwandile Masina resigns as councillor amid ambitions for ANC top 6 role

Masina is blamed for the failed ANC power grab in Ekurhuleni.

After the Johannesburg council meeting, Phalatse said that it was apparent that the opposition had withdrawn because they did not have the numbers to win, with the EFF willing to vote with the DA.

She was warned that in January, there might be another move to vote her out.

"There's always a threat of a MONC, especially in a democracy," she said. 

She added:

I am concerned at the frequencies of the MONCs, and we will take it to the rules committee because, in Ekurhuleni and Parliament, there must be a six-month period between the motions. In Johannesburg, there is nothing.

On Wednesday, a motion to pass a R2 billion short-term loan from the Development Bank of Southern Africa was unsuccessful in council.

Opposition parties voted against it, saying that if the city insists it is not in a financial crisis, it doesn't need the loan.

Phalatse said although they did not get the loan, the city was working on getting big debtors to pay. She said the Gauteng Department of Health owed the city R240 million, and they had given the department until Friday to pay.

The health department disputed this, saying its account was up to date, and that the debt referred to by the city was a historical dispute on the water and sanitation accounts of the Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Academic Hospital and Sizwe Tropical Disease Hospital.

Councillor Margaret Arnolds, who brought and retracted the first motion of no confidence, said Phalatse was wrong in saying the opposition retracted the motion because they didn't have the numbers. 

"She's incorrect, we do have the numbers, and we (the opposition parties) still have a commitment from [the EFF]."

The proof, she said, was that the DA-led multiparty government lost the motion for the R2 billion loan. 

READ | Opposition parties withdraw motion of no confidence, Phalatse remains Joburg mayor - for now

"We're seeing how cars are being taken away and that contracts are not being paid. Yet, she says there is no problem with the finances. She must prove to us [there are no issues with finances]."

Morero, who led the city for 25 days before the courts reinstated Phalatse as mayor, reiterated what Arnolds said.

"I had a lovely 25 days [as mayor]," he joked.

"We're dealing with a denialist. We've demonstrated that we have the numbers [when rejecting the short-term loan]. There are just some small issues that need to be resolved by the leadership [of the ANC and the EFF]."

Morero said despite the fighting in the council, he and Phalatse were not enemies.

"It's not about us as human beings. We don't hate each other. We have different political [points of view]. We may bicker and fight in council, but once the motions are done, we can be friends."

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