South Africa


When it rains it pours — Multiparty coalition plots to remove Colleen Makhubele as city of Joburg chair of chairs

When it rains it pours — Multiparty coalition plots to remove Colleen Makhubele as city of Joburg chair of chairs
City of Joburg Chair of Chairs Cllr. Colleen Makhubele. (Photo: Gallo Images / Luba Lesolle) | Mayor Mpho Phalatse. (Photo: Gallo Images / Papi Morake)

The City of Johannesburg multiparty government has defeated the Congress of the People councillor in court and now they are planning to remove her. The coalition partners believe that Makhubele has betrayed the residents of the city by voting with opposition parties to oust Vasco Da Gama as council speaker.

Following the verdict handed by Gcina Malindi late on Monday evening, the City of Joburg multiparty coalition revealed that they have tabled a motion of no confidence in Congress of the People’s (Cope) Colleen Makhubele, which will be on the agenda on 28 September 2022. 

Speaking on behalf of the multiparty coalition, Freedom Front Plus’s Corne Mulder said they were confident that they have the numbers to vote in their preferred speaker and to remove Makhubele as chair of chairs.

“We never had any issues in the coalition, it was some individual councillors who decided to do their own thing and their political parties must deal with them. We accommodated her (Makhubele) and the Cope and made her the chair of chairs but she betrayed us and voted with the ANC.

“We are confident that we will have a majority and we are not concerned about not being able to remove her. We welcome the verdict but it is a very difficult situation but we will succeed,” he said.

If all councillors from the DA, ActionSA, Inkatha Freedom Party, Patriotic Alliance, Freedom Front Plus and African Christian Democratic Party vote for the motion of no confidence against Makhubele, it will be enough to remove her. Their votes total 137. 

Council sitting interdicted

The extraordinary council sitting of the City of Johannesburg, scheduled for 13 September 2022 was successfully interdicted as it was declared invalid, null and void. The court ruling states that Makhubele is not to be the Acting Speaker of the Council.

City of Johannesburg executive mayor Mpho Phalatse was due to face a motion of no confidence in the council meeting, which has been interdicted, and a new speaker would have been elected to replace Vasco Da Gama, who was ousted two weeks ago. 

On Monday the urgent court application was heard during a virtual sitting of the Johannesburg high court. 

Representing the city, Advocate Timothy Bruinders was adamant that Makhubele is not the acting speaker under applicable legislation and that means she is not empowered to have issued a notice for a council meeting.  

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He said that if that meeting proceeds it will proceed unlawfully or invalidly and decisions taken during the sitting would not consequently be illegal. 

Advocate Terry Motau, who was representing Makhubele, relied on Rule 19 (1) of the Standing Orders which deals with the position of speaker in council proceedings.

The rule states that if the speaker is absent or unavailable to their duties or needs to be relieved during a meeting, the chairpersons of committees will be the acting speaker. It further states that if both the speaker and the chairpersons of committees are unable to undertake their duties for 14 days then the speaker will nominate one of the section 70 committee chairs to fill the vacancy temporarily. 

However, Bruinders highlighted that Rule 19 (1) of the Standing Orders was only applicable if  Makhubele was appointed at the meeting — where Da Gama was removed — to be acting speaker by election, as contemplated by section 41 of the Structures Act. No nomination or election preceded her taking over and purporting to act as acting speaker.

Shortly after the ruling was made Phalatse’s office issued a statement condemning Makubele’s actions. Makhubele is one of five councillors in the city’s multiparty coalition who voted to remove Da Gama from his position. She then assumed the position of acting speaker which further angered coalition partners in the city. 

“The actions of councillor Makhubele and those who backed and bankrolled her illegal actions must be condemned in the harshest of terms. These actions have only sought to create confusion in the minds of residents and undermine the laws of the country and the Rules of Council; all in an effort to grab power at all costs.

“It must be noted that a costs order was also handed down; and while the city cannot get back the time lost to fighting for residents and the rule of law, we can find solace in the fact that the monies spent fighting an attempted coup of corruption will be returned to the city’s coffers under the care of the multiparty Government and they will be directed towards their rightful function — the delivery of services.

“While it is never desirable to ventilate these matters in court, we had no choice but to approach the courts to rule on this matter, as common sense and a commitment to democratic process did not prevail,”  mayoral communications director Mabine Seabe said. 

Speaking to Daily Maverick after the judgment Makhubele was undeterred.

“There is no loss for us. If I am not the acting speaker then the acting city manager must convene a meeting and we will still achieve the same objectives [which is] voting in the speaker and the motion of no confidence [in the executive mayor],” she reiterated. 

The acting city manager Bryne Maduka will now have to organise the council meeting where a new speaker will be elected. DM


Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • L Dennis says:

    Bind the minds the ears the eyes the mouths the hands and the feet of those plotting evil and trying to get their hand on funds meant to improve not plunder. God bless those who are working at improving a SA for all.

  • Glyn Morgan says:

    Well, she bit the dust in Council. Lets see what COPE does next. If anything. What will the other parties do with their traitors?

  • William Stucke says:

    Yet more evidence, if we needed any, that far too many of these “politicians” aren’t interested in serving their constituents but instead in grabbing power for themselves.

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