South Africa

JOZI BEDLAM

Eight Johannesburg councillors charged for violence as coalition vows tough action on more disruptions

ActionSA's John Moodey, DA Leader John Steenhuisen and Cope’s Connie Makhubela at the City of Johannesburg multiparty coalition media briefing on 17 January 2022. The briefing addressed recent alleged disruptions of council meetings by members of the ANC and EFF. (Photo: Gallo Images / Luba Lesolle)

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.

Chaotic council sitting of the city of Johannesburg on 13 january 2022.Photo:Screengrabs

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.

The turbulent City of Johannesburg council meeting on 13 January 2022. (Photo: Screengrabs)

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. 

The turbulent City of Johannesburg council meeting on 13 January 2022. (Photo: Screengrabs)

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

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All Comments 6

  • Chaos was predicted, and chaos it will remain. And the EFF, whilst part of the coalition, will ensure that this council will in effect be dysfunctional. Feel sorry for JHB residents. Personally, I believe it would have been better if the DA was in the opposition chairs. It things go wrong, and it likely will, the blame will be squarely placed at their door.

    • Coen, the problem that we have now is that the people with means are fleeing this city at a rapid rate. I think the DA was in such a rush to have control that they fell into this hook, line and sinker and their lives are going to be unbearable as a consequence.

      • If JHB is like this already, I shudder to think wat will happen in Ekurhuleni, especially with a Whitie as major. Tania Campbell is going to suffer big time once the EFF (and ANC) councillors get going

  • The usual despicable disruptive tactics of EFF and ANC – pleased to see the coalition taking a tough stance, and I think the Johannesburg Mayor is a lady of courage and principle.

    • Sandra, for once I think you are not correct. I can not see the court making any firm ruling, except a slap on the wrist. And coalition partners, which now include “hop-skip-and jump” Patriotic Alliance, will also start massive internal coalition battles. I am afraid Steenhuisen/Zille got this one, as well as in Ekurhuleni, badly wrong. If every council meeting results in the same degree of chaos, there is going to be a heck of a lot of court cases. We saw it in PE, it will happen here as well.

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