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Joburg coalition parties could go to court to quell council chaos


The DA-led multi-party coalition in the City of Joburg vowed to ensure a smooth election of committee chairpersons on Tuesday following a chaotic sitting last…

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The DA-led multi-party coalition in the City of Joburg vowed to ensure a smooth election of committee chairpersons on Tuesday following a chaotic sitting last week.

The DA, ActionSA, IFP, PA, FF Plus, ACDP and Cope held a briefing in reaction to last week’s meeting that collapsed without electing chairpersons. The DA wanted the chair of chairs and chairpersons of committees to be elected openly through a show of hands. The other parties, led by the ANC and the EFF wanted a secret ballot. This led to fighting breaking out in the chamber and the sitting consequently adjourned amid the chaos.

Mayor Mpho Phalatse has since laid charges with the police against eight councillors.

ActionSA Gauteng chairperson John Moodey said the rules were clear on council elections.

“We will ensure the meeting takes place tomorrow, and chairpersons are elected. If it means we have to go to court, we will. The law is clear on an election through secret ballot – that is for the mayor, speaker and the chief whip.”

ALSO READ: ‘Crime is crime no matter who is involved,’ says Phalatse on charges against ANC councillors

The highly contested positions hold power in that the chairpersons could ask for reports, summon a mayor or heads of departments to account, and even halt the passing of a budget, said Moodey.

FF Plus leader Pieter Groenewald said the chaotic meeting should not be seen as an isolated incident. The governing party was not in a position to peacefully hand over power, he said.

“In his own newsletter today, President Ramaphosa said it was important to uphold the law and the constitutional democracy… but his own members don’t do that. I appeal to Ramaphosa to intervene immediately before tomorrow, and ensure their members respect democratic processes. Because if he doesn’t do that, he is just a hypocrite. South Africa looks up to him to do something and be seen to be doing something.”

ALSO READ: Charges against ANC councillors must send message – Joburg mayor

The council fighting saw Cogta MEC Lebogang Maile write a letter to speaker Vasco Da Gama requesting him to furnish his department with a report on why the council collapsed. Maile said the failed meeting undermined the stability of the metro and placed its governance and integrity at risk.

DA leader John Steenhuisen dismissed Maile’s action as interference. He said his party won’t hesitate repeating what it did in the City of Tshwane after Maile placed the metro under administration. The party took Maile to the Constitutional Court.

“He is very reluctant to intervene in poorly run municipalities in Gauteng. He targeted Tshwane and he leant an expensive lesson last year…we were able to win in the Constitutional Court and his action was declared illegal. There is a separation of powers in government and there is the independence of the spheres of government.”

“Maile should have his hands full dealing with many councils in Gauteng that are completely dysfunctional and are mostly ANC-led. It is wrong for another sphere of government, in an unwarranted way, to interfere in a council. If he tries to intervene again, we will waste no time like we did in Tshwane and challenge that intervention.”

With the PA having added its support to the DA, the coalition parties now have 140 votes in council. The coalition was initially left with 132 votes after Aljama-ah and the APC pulled out of the coalition.

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