LOCAL GOVERNMENT POLITICS
Tshwane, NMB mayors removed as municipal power struggle continues
In what has been a chaotic week in municipal politics, the DA lost control of Tshwane on Thursday only a day after losing Johannesburg to the ANC and the United Democratic Movement’s Mongameli Bobani was booted out of office in Nelson Mandela Bay. As political parties are starting to jockey for the 2021 local government elections, the high-stakes scramble may have only just begun.
A no-confidence motion against Tshwane mayor Stevens Mokgalapa was passed on Thursday evening in another blow to the DA, just 24 hours after it lost Johannesburg on Wednesday; the DA has now lost all three metropolitan municipalities it won through coalitions after the 2016 elections.
The ANC and EFF supported the motion of no confidence against Mokgalapa, removing him with 11 votes while the DA abstained. Mokgalapa was appointed mayor in February 2019 after the DA’s Solly Msimanga resigned to run for Gauteng premier.
A leaked audio recording of Mokgalapa and roads and transport MMC Sheila Senkubuge recently surfaced that allegedly suggested the pair had a romantic relationship and had made disparaging remarks about their colleagues in the DA. Senkubuge resigned last week.
The motion was tabled against the mayor due to his mismanagement of the Hammanskraal water crisis, alleged mismanagement of Wonderboom Airport and the alleged Aurecon corruption scandal.
At the time of writing, the council meeting was continuing on Thursday evening as a new mayor was expected to be elected. The DA appears likely to challenge the mayor’s removal in court.
In a marathon, and at times chaotic, council sitting, the DA’s first blow on Thursday came as a motion of no confidence was passed against speaker Katlego Mathebe. The ANC and EFF voted to oust Mathebe and install the EFF’s Ramabodu Obakeng as the speaker.
DA Gauteng provincial leader John Moodey said Mathebe’s ousting and Obakeng’s election was a “coup d’état” that the ANC and EFF pulled off with the help of an official from the Department of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta), who presided over proceedings after Mathebe recused herself.
“The ANC and EFF have just illegally elected an acting speaker in the City of Tshwane and they were aided and abetted by ANC-deployed Cogta officials, namely the deputy director-general, Mr Willy Bila, in conducting this election, this illegal election of EFF councillor as acting speaker in the City of Tshwane,” said Moodey.
“As the DA we will oppose this illegal appointment in the council chambers and we will also take this matter to court.
“This shows the people of South Africa, not just the people of Tshwane, that the ANC and the EFF are nothing else but rogues and they are putting our democracy under threat,” Moodey continued.
In what has been a tumultuous week in local government politics, Nelson Mandela Bay mayor Mongameli Bobani’s 15-month leadership also came to an end on Thursday.
After multiple attempts to remove him through no-confidence motions, the ANC and DA teamed up to remove Bobani after both criticised the United Democratic Movement (UDM) member’s leadership.
UDM leader Bantu Holomisa commented on Twitter:
“It was clear that when he refused to approve favours demanded by some political party members he wouldn’t last.”
DA councillor Morne Steyn tabled the motion to oust Bobani and the party said he had “single-handedly run this city into the ground”.
Nelson Mandela Bay Deputy Mayor Thsonono Buyeye was appointed an interim leader until a new administration is elected to lead in 2019.
In Johannesburg, the ANC and DA were at loggerheads over a no-confidence motion brought against Speaker Vasco da Gama. The motion was brought by the ANC after it successfully elected Geoff Makhubo as mayor on Wednesday.
DA Johannesburg caucus leader Funzela Ngobeni said after the ANC motion failed, the party “resorted to aggressive and violent attempts at refusing the Speaker the opportunity to resume his role, and denied the council the opportunity to continue with its business”.
“It is disappointing that a day after the ANC was entrusted with the mayoral responsibility, it has already demonstrated its inability to adhere to council rules and established democratic processes.”
“This sets a worrying tone for how the ANC and its partners will conduct themselves in executive positions for the remainder of this term,” said Ngobeni.
ANC regional spokesperson Jolidee Matongo said the motion against Da Gama was passed by a majority of councillors present, but the DA refused to accept the outcome. The ANC now wants the provincial government to intervene.
“The DA-led coalition’s continued sabotaging of the process is a clear indication that they are not democrats and do not care about the residents of Johannesburg,” said Matongo. DM