South Africa

COUNCIL CRISIS

She’s out; she’s back in; she’s out again – Mpho Phalatse removed as Johannesburg mayor

She’s out; she’s back in; she’s out again – Mpho Phalatse removed as Johannesburg mayor
Former executive mayor of Johannesburg Mpho Phalatse. (Photo: Julia Evans) | Al Jama-ah’s Thapelo Amad. (Photo: Gallo Images / Sharon Seretlo)

After intense deliberations and horse-trading behind closed doors, minority parties in the City of Joburg seem to have decided on their preferred candidate for executive mayor of SA’s richest metro, following Mpho Phalatse’s ousting.

The DA has again lost control of SA’s richest metro, Johannesburg, following the ousting of Executive Mayor Mpho Phalatse in a motion of no confidence on Thursday — this time to an unlikely candidate.  

Phalatse was removed as mayor following a successful motion of no confidence brought by African Transformation Movement (ATM) councillor Lubabalo Magwentshu, who argued: “We are not surprised by the executive mayor’s inability to deliver services to the poor and marginalised people of Johannesburg.”   

A total of 140 councillors voted in favour of the motion to have Phalatse removed, while 129 voted against it. Among the parties that voted in favour were the ANC, EFF, Patriotic Alliance (PA), Al Jama-ah and ATM. Those who voted against included ActionSA, the DA, ACDP and FF Plus.  

 

The DA needed the support of the PA to defeat the motion, but negotiations between the two parties collapsed. The PA is said to have demanded two  positions on the Mayoral Committee in Johannesburg and MMC positions in the Ekurhuleni metro — to which the DA did not agree.   

Phalatse’s removal comes barely three months after she successfully had a motion of no confidence against her overturned at the Johannesburg High Court. 

Before this, Phalatse faced several other motions of no confidence— some failed and some were withdrawn.   

Johannesburg and the cities of Ekurhuleni and Tshwane have been led by DA-led multiparty coalitions since the 2021 local government elections, when the ANC was relegated to the opposition benches after its support fell below 50% for the first time. 


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A well-placed source told this reporter that during the negotiations, the ANC attempted to have its candidate appointed as mayor, promising to give in to whatever demands would be put on the table — but the proposal was rejected. Eventually, the bloc decided on three names: Cope’s Colleen Makhubele, Al Jama-ah’s Thapelo Amad and the African Independent Congress’ Margaret Arnolds. 

After further deliberations on Thursday morning, the minority parties decided on Amad, who was confident he would emerge victorious when the council resumed the sitting on Friday.   

On the process leading up to his being named, Amad said: “It was a very difficult process, we had to engage, consult and do it again and again. 

“An opportunity like this … it creates ambitions, it creates instability within the group, but at the end of the day, my name emerged uncontested. I am humbled that … everyone in the bloc, including the EFF, PA and ANC, are in support of this particular name.”   

The leaders of at least four political parties, including the PA’s Gayton McKenzie, confirmed Amad’s endorsement as mayor.   

Despite voting with the DA, ActionSA’s Gauteng leader, Bongani Baloyi, said that following the ousting of Phalatse their coalition had ceased to exist and they would consider fielding their own candidate.  

“We believe we cannot continue to support their candidate again. We are firm and clear that we are going to nominate our candidate, going forward,” said Baloyi.  

The motion against Phalatse has once again raised questions about the instability of coalition governments, particularly in large metros where political parties are often said to be pursuing their own interests instead of those of their constituencies.  

Before the vote that ousted her, Phalatse gave her first speech of the year, in which she acknowledged the plight of Johannesburg residents since her term of office began. She pleaded with the councillors to take decisions that favoured residents and not their own political ambitions.  

“The people of Johannesburg have suffered enough. The last few months have been difficult. They have been characterised by political instability as we wrestled each other for control of the city. 

“We are sitting with an administration in limbo, without a city manager, a COO, and without a DBSA [Development Bank of Southern Africa] loan, all because we have been distracted by petty and trivial [issues], and our chronic avoidance of tough decisions, as well as [the] inability to build a working consensus,” Phalatse said.   

Speaking to journalists after council proceedings, Phalatse said the outcome was unfortunate. “I feel sad for the city, I feel sad for the residents,” she said.   

Phalatse poured cold water over allegations that she did not enjoy the support of the DA’s national leadership and that there were attempts to purge her. 

Asked about her future in the party, she said: “I am not resigning from DA. The DA is a very big organisation and, yes, I do have a lot of support from the DA as an organisation.” DM

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Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Elmarie Dennis says:

    The atm is that a cash withdrawal machine? it’s clear that citizens needs are not important and that you are there to serve and not loot still did not sink in. Dear Mpho Phalatse you truly are a very gracious woman. You carried yourself with dignity. I am so glad you are part of the DA. You were not supported just like Eskom the unjust have their own devious agendas. How can a divided house flourish? I pray for you and that Gods Hands will be covering you and that our beautiful country will be blessed. Deceit is in the hearts of those who plot evil, but JOY comes to the promoters of peace. Be blessed Dear Phalatse i am excited for your future.

  • Elizabeth Jansen van Vuuren says:

    “We are sitting with an administration in limbo, without a city manager, a COO, and without a DBSA [Development Bank of Southern Africa] loan, all because we have been distracted by petty and trivial [issues], and our chronic avoidance of tough decisions, as well as [the] inability to build a working consensus,”
    This feels like suicide by means of government.

  • Cedric Parker says:

    Flip flopping leadership at our Metros is creating chaos as far as service delivery is concerned. Why not introduce a requirement that motions of no confidence need to establish legitimacy before a judge before they can be voted on?

  • PETER BAKER says:

    This is an unmitigated clusterfu*k brought on by parasitic people in the ANC EFF and PA amongst others whose only interest is self interest and how much they can steal. If only the voters saw this and didn’t just vote for t shirt and a KFC… a tragic day for Johannesburg. The people have what they voted for!!

  • Hermann Funk says:

    There should be no political representation by any party that cannot muster a minimum of 5% of the total vote.

  • Cunningham Ngcukana says:

    The manner in which a party handles its internal differences will either lift it or will cost it. For any party to think that they can have one view on how to deal with the challenges of the country it is looking for a Utopia. The DA has been looking for this Utopia that has eluded the ANC under Cyril. As a result they engaged in the orgy of self – destruction led by Helen Zille who has a foot in the mouth disease. This is in addition to their inability to read the emerging politics of the rise of permanent minorities within the Afrikaners and Coloured people.
    This led to its incorrect of assignment of blame when Afrikaners began to return to FF Plus laager and the so – called coloured voters split their votes. They are now reaping the fruits of their political immaturity as they are losing the black vote in an effort to hold on the white vote which they regard as their base. They have no grasp that there are tectonic political shifts in the political landscape of South Africa. Their inability to seize the moment cost them about 15 seats in the Johannesburg Metro that could have created a viable situation for them. The reckless approach by its leadership on coalitions will be its nemesis even in the future. They will remain a Western Cape party as the ActionSA councillor pointed out that it is the DA that cost Phalatse the mayoral chain and correctly so. You need to read the reckless letters of Steenhuisen to FF Plus and no party worth its salt can take his insults.

  • Rory Macnamara says:

    Amad, watch your back. I give you three months and you will be out! the system is clearly failing if all these idiot politicians can do is scrap for positions. what a disgrace, what an insult to the voters, what a shame for democracy which these actions are not democracy, but snouts in the trough.

  • Grimalkin Joyce says:

    It took the ANC close to 25 years (can’t remember when the collapse began). They give this intelligent, young, determined woman a matter of months and they start whingeing about what she hasn’t done. Pitiful, pathetic and another step on the road to complete ruin.

  • Alan Salmon says:

    If this is the future of coalitions in SA, which I suspect it is, we are doomed. There is no interest in governing for the good of the people – power with a direct route to money is the name of the game, and the smallest parties are the biggest culprits. Disgraceful.

  • Trevor Pope says:

    PA = Patronage Alliance

  • Grant Turnbull says:

    Its a disgrace that these idiots in politics play games with Africas most productive city and the wheelhouse of SA. They did not have a candidate but chose a dummy candidate who is just out of nappies while they play around with power politics at the expense of us ratepayers. They have no regard for our hard earned money.

    • John Smythe says:

      He’s a complete fool if he can’t see that he is merely a puppet mayor for the ANC, EFF and PA. He’ll last for 5 minutes.

      • Roelf Pretorius says:

        That is not how I have it. The ANC also agreed on his mayorship. The truth is that the ANC is ahead of the national leaders of the DA now in terms of management of coalitions; it looks to me as if they have woken up to the reality that, in order to rule as part of a coalition, you have to accept that you are not in control, but the whole coalition. The DA however always want to interfere.

      • Roelf Pretorius says:

        I think I have a solution to the instability in the local governments; and it will probably apply to some of the provincial governments after 2024 also. What needs to happen is that the rules governing the election and removal of mayors and premiers need to change to be the same as that of the President. Firstly the mayor or premier, upon being elected, will stop being a member of the council or legislature; this will prevent political parties from removing the person by kicking him/her out. Secondly, mayors’ and premiers’ removal must be limited to the grounds of gross violations of the Constitution or being unable to execute their responsibilities, and if a motion of no confidence is registered, a panel of independent experts must be appointed to determine if the charges are valid in the same way as happened with Ramaphosa, and the process must ONLY go on if they think there is. If they think there is, the council or legislature must be able to approve it by a TWO-THIRDS majority; if it is unable to do so, the motion is defeated. And only if it is supported by two-thirds of the members of that body, does a debate on the motion commence. That two-thirds is as important as it is in the case of a State President, and is aimed at preventing unnecessary instability in the executive, because executive actions are usually only successful if they are allowed to function on a longer term. I can’t see why this was not part of the system right from the start.

  • Joe Soap says:

    The ANC, EFF wanted the DA out before the R 2 billion loan from the DBSA. They promised all the little parties they could join this feeding frenzy. Now that Phalatse is gone all that money is available for looting. Of the 2 billion only a very small percentage will end up servicing the debt. Watch this space, there will be no improvement in the financial position of COJ . It is about time we remove this layer of corrupt people from our society. I am tired of funding these leeches, and am sure most people are.

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