Why only the EFF knows whether Mpho Phalatse will continue as mayor of Joburg

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Mpho Phalatse.
Mpho Phalatse.
Gallo/ Lubabalo Lesolle
  • Joburg councillors are still unsure whether Mpho Phalatse will remain the mayor by the end of the day.
  • The EFF is the decider for a motion against Phalatse and they are not saying which way they will vote.
  • The party is waiting on instructions from leader Julius Malema.

It's not just the media, but even councillors are in the dark over the motion of no confidence in the Johannesburg mayor. 

The only people who seem to know which way the vote will go is the EFF - and they're not talking to anybody.

Councillors in the opposition parties, however, say the EFF is waiting for leader Julius Malema to give the order. 

The ninth ordinary sitting of the council is in session, but it is being held "in committee", meaning that all media and other gallery members are not privy to the discussions and must wait outside.

Councillors say this is because the issues being discussed are "sensitive".

They will be discussing two items "in committee".

The first is the outcome of the investigation into the alleged breach of the code of conduct by councillor Loyiso Masuku. She was accused of corruption after a PPE tender.

The second item is allegations of misconduct against "senior managers, Section 56 employees".

There is no more information on this item.

The "in committee" discussions began at 12:30 and are ongoing.

Following these items are four motions of no confidence - two in the mayor, Mpho Phalatse, and one in the chairperson of the Section 79 committee for gender, youth and disabled, DA councillor Nakita Dellwaria.

READ | Joburg mayor Phalatse confident ahead of vote of no confidence

Another is in the chairperson of the environment, infrastructure and service delivery Section 79 committee, ActionSA councillor Lerato Ngobeni. 

On Wednesday, the belief was that the minority parties would withdraw the motions against Phalatse.

This was after the decision by Malema - who, two weeks ago, said the party would vote in defence of the DA in Johannesburg until the ANC agreed to back the EFF in Ekurhuleni.

The decision was taken because the ANC and EFF disagreed on who should govern in Ekurhuleni after Tania Campbell was axed in a motion of no confidence last month.

The DA's Campbell was then reinstated following a vote in the council because of this disagreement between the EFF and the ANC.

Johannesburg executive mayor Mpho Phalatse speaks
Johannesburg executive mayor Mpho Phalatse speaks with the ANC Johannesburg chair Dada Morero, who took over for the 25-days when she was axed, speak during a break in council on Thursday.
News24 Alex Patrick

The allegations were that the motions, brought by minority opposition parties, would be withdrawn until the ANC and the EFF could come to an agreement.

But, on Thursday, the chairperson of the ANC Ekurhuleni region, Mzwandile Masina, resigned as a councillor.

Masina was blamed for the failed ANC power grab in the metro.

DA councillors, who were confident the motions of no confidence in the mayor would be withdrawn, now say they are uncertain because there has "been a new development".

But no one knows precisely what this "development" is - only that "two conditions" must be met for the EFF to vote with the opposition.

ANC councillors appear jovial and say, "there is good news" - but won't divulge any further.

And EFF councillors say they are waiting for their leader to give the command.

READ | Mpho Phalatse believes she is still Joburg's mayor

Opposition councillors say there is a possibility that opposition minorities may take the mayor position, if the motion is successful, until January, when the ANC and EFF can work things out.

But leaders of these parties appeared unhappy by Thursday afternoon.

Some opposition councillors told News24 that it may be best to withdraw the motions of no confidence until January, as the council recess starts 8 December.

Meanwhile, City officials asked the media to eat their provided lunch packs in a boardroom, away from the council chambers.

A City representative told News24 that opposition parties had approached the Speaker, Colleen Makhubele, to ask that canned beverages be banned from the council chamber. The request was because cans could cause injury, even cuts, if thrown.

The lunches included cans of cold drinks.

According to the representative, councillors were more afraid of throwing cans at each other, "but we've had to make that a rule for everyone, so it includes the gallery too".

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