Joburg Mayor Mpho Phalatse safe for now, but plans to oust Speaker Vasco da Gama forge ahead
Minority parties have not been able to get their motion against Johannesburg executive mayor Mpho Phalastse approved, but Speaker Vasco Da Gama’s future is still in the balance.
The coalition government led by the DA in the City of Johannesburg has been navigating turbulent waters after minority parties joined forces in an attempt to oust executive mayor Mpho Phalatse and council speaker Vasco da Gama.
Speaking on behalf of the parties, African Independent Congress councillor Margaret Arnolds said the motion against Phalatse was not passed because it did not comply with requirements.
These parties make up 11 seats in the council, but with the backing of the ANC and EFF, they will be able to muster at least 131 votes against Da Gama. However, they will need at least another five votes for the motion to succeed at the council sitting scheduled for 31 August.
Despite this, Arnolds is confident that they will have the required numbers to oust Da Gama.
“The motion for the speaker is still valid and it will go ahead, but the one for the mayor will not go ahead. Remember, with the mayor, it is because there is a case in court, so we cannot bring it up in the motion. So she is safe for now, but we also know she is going to fire some of her members of the mayoral committee and that is going to be detrimental… she is going to fall as the mayor,” said Arnolds.
Phalatse is dealing with a case regarding R11-million which is alleged to have been unprocedurally paid to NGO, Field Band Foundation, in 2017 for services rendered. During this time, Phalatse was the MMC for health and social development and was accused by the ANC of spearheading the deal.
ANC Johannesburg caucus leader Dada Morero confirmed that the ANC would support the motion.
“There are a number of issues which we have with the speaker. He acts as the speaker of the DA and not speaker of council… he does not give other parties an opportune time to speak.
“Two council meetings collapsed under his watch, which created a problem for the council to finish its business. He resolved on calling a special council meeting, but the council sat for an hour when he had procured resources for a normal council meeting, which is tantamount to wasteful expenditure,” he said.
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Morero highlighted what he said were weaknesses in the multi-party government led by the DA, including the wage-related JMPD strike which took place last week. The South African Municipal Workers Union and Independent Municipal and Allied Trade Union ended up reaching a solution with the city last Friday.
He also said the council had failed to intervene in any service delivery matters. “They are R3-billion under in terms of funding their budget… they are unable to collect revenue to reach their budget, and from where I am, we are convinced that they are taking the city backwards. There is nothing exciting that is happening in the City of Joburg,” he said.
Director of mayoral communications Mabine Seabe called the attempt by minority parties in council to topple Phalatse a “distraction”. He believes the motion is born from frustration due to the new administration disrupting corrupt activities in the city.
Seabe said those who were no longer “eating” were using all kinds of tactics to get back into power.
“The residents of Joburg are starting to see and feel the difference since the multi-party government’s R77.3-billion budget kicked in on 1 July. This political administration will finish its five-year term, even if it is not to the desire of our political opponents.
“What is also a problem for our political opponents is that we are repairing and rebuilding Joburg. Service delivery is taking centre stage. On 29 September, the multi-party government will report back to the six million residents on the work we have done over the last nine months,” he said. DM