WATCH | Chaotic scenes at eThekwini portfolio committee elections

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 ANC councillor in eThekwini Thanduxolo Sabelo.
ANC councillor in eThekwini Thanduxolo Sabelo.
Tebogo Letsie/City Press

Chaos broke out at the eThekwini city hall during the election of a deputy chairperson and whip for the Economic Development and Planning portfolio committee last Friday.

A video clip which was kept under wraps until recently, shows members of council loudly screaming at each other. The tension nearly got physical, with opposition councillors being on the receiving end of the anger in the chamber.

DA councillors accused committee chair Thanduxolo Sabelo of bullying and bragging about his role in the ANCYL whenever he is questioned about certain decisions he makes.

Councillor Siboniso Sibisi, DA whip in the committee, said issues came to a head when Sabelo decided to make the meeting private.

“We had issues with how Sabelo was handling the voting ... This is not how this committee was while we still had Cllr [Sipho] Kaunda as a chair, because he treated us like adults, with respect and he would admonish people when it was necessary. This chairperson, instead of addressing issues that are raised on decisions he makes, intimidates people with his political credentials,” said Sibisi.

He said they decided to call DA councillors Thabani Mthethwa and Nicole Graham to the meeting after it became clear that the election process would go ahead despite their concerns about the manner in which it was handled.

As the DA leadership in council got to the venue, councillors were seen pushing and gesturing at them to leave the venue. Mthethwa said the situation was tense.

He said: 

“The pushing was really physical and we left the venue without finding clarity on the complaint by one of our councillors. This was all about how the ballot process for the two positions was held, but we were met with arrogance when we tried to get answers.”

Council spokesperson Mluleki Mntungwa saw the video clip, but denied that there was chaos at the meeting.

“In fact, councillor Graham was not part of the meeting. She and other councillors entered the venue after the voting process was concluded. After they left, the meeting proceeded as normal. So there was nothing untoward in the manner in which the meeting was conducted,” said Mntungwa.

Sabelo said it was not true that he physically pushed anyone out.

“We walked out together and agreed that they were not supposed to be in the meeting. A secret ballot was indeed conducted as a result of a request from councillors. The doors were only closed during the voting process, which is the normal way of conducting municipal meetings. There were no irregularities and all councillors participated in the voting process and accepted the outcomes without objections. There was nothing untoward except that Cllr Graham, Cllr Mdu Nkosi and Cllr Vukani Ndlovu barged into the meeting which they are not members of and disrupted the proceedings. The situation was then restored back to normal,” said Sabelo.

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