Eight Johannesburg councillors charged for violence as coalition vows tough action on more disruptions
Political leaders have threatened to go to court if the ANC and EFF again disrupt council elections for oversight committee chairpersons.
Eight Johannesburg councillors face charges for what DA leader John Steenhuisen has called a “descent into chaos” at the first council meeting for 2022, held on 13 January.
The election of committee chairpersons who monitor the city’s administration was abandoned after being disrupted by ANC and EFF members. Some councillors, among them Planning MMC Belinda Echeozonjoku, were roughed up.
In the lead-up to a meeting on 18 January, the eight parties that form the city’s minority coalition government said security was being beefed up. Action SA’s Gauteng chairperson, John Moodey, said that council Speaker Vasco da Gama would ensure the committee chairperson elections went ahead, but if they did not, the coalition parties would go to court.
In addition, Steenhuisen said that disruptors would be reported to the council’s ethics committee which could dock their pay.
The ANC-EFF team filibustered the meeting by objecting to holding elections by a show of hands. They insisted that secret ballots be cast, but Moodey said the Municipal Structures Act made provision for elections through a show of hands and that only the positions of Executive Mayor, Speaker and Chief Whip of the council were done by secret ballot.
Meanwhile, the Patriotic Alliance has joined the Johannesburg coalition government after a guarantee of positions, said its council leader Ashley Sauls. The coalition now has 140 of 270 seats, said ACDP leader in the council, Bishop Dulton Adams.
Moodey said chairperson positions were powerful and influential and were thus coveted. They passed budgets and held MMCs accountable, he said. The election of the “chair of chairs” position was also disrupted. This position is politically powerful because the person elected to it determines the council’s programme.
Freedom Front Plus leader Pieter Groenewald said the violence and obstructionist tactics by the ANC in Johannesburg were a foretaste of what would happen if the party lost the national elections in 2024.
The ANC’s Johannesburg council leader, Mpho Moerane, asked the Gauteng government to intervene and has laid blame for the chaos at Da Gama’s door. Groenewald said President Cyril Ramaphosa should intervene. DM