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Tshwane gets a new mayor – Cope’s Makwarela – as seething multiparty coalition urgently seeks answers

Tshwane gets a new mayor – Cope’s Makwarela – as seething multiparty coalition urgently seeks answers
Dr Murunwa Makwarela of COPE speaks after he was elected as the new Executive Mayor of Tshwane at the special council meeting on February 28, 2023 in Pretoria, South Africa. It is reported that Dr Murunwa Makwarela of COPE defeated Cilliers Brink of DA with 112 to 101 votes. (Photo by Gallo Images/Beeld/Deaan Vivier)

The capital city has a new mayor — Murunwa Makwarela who comes from the Congress of the People. Despite a multiparty coalition agreeing on the DA’s candidate, Cilliers Brink fell short. Now, in a city governed by a councillor from a party who received 0.19% of the votes, the multiparty coalition is trying to find out who voted for Makwarela. 

Murunwa Makwarela will start his first day in office as mayor of Tshwane on 1 March following his election during a council sitting, where he won 112 votes against former DA MP Cilliers Brink. 

Makwarela was the Speaker of the council until his election as mayor. He and his political party Cope were part of a multiparty coalition government in the capital city, along with parties such as the Democratic Alliance, Freedom Front Plus, ActionSA and the African Christian Democratic Party.

However, during a council sitting to elect a new mayor on Tuesday 28 February, Makwarela received 112 votes against 101 received by the DA’s Brink, who resigned from Parliament as an MP to take up a seat in the council. The vote was held via secret ballot. 

With Makwarela’s election, Tshwane is governed by a party that only received 0.19% of the votes during the 2021 municipal election. 

Dr Murunwa Makwarela of COPE celebrates with ANC and EFF members after he was elected as the new Executive Mayor of Tshwane at the special council meeting on February 28, 2023 in Pretoria, South Africa. (Photo by Gallo Images/Beeld/Deaan Vivier)

Randall Williams’ resignation

In February, Tshwane mayor Randall Williams resigned from office after being at the centre of a R26-billion tender in which he was alleged to be involved. He had previously faced a motion of no confidence by the ANC in 2022 — which failed. Daily Maverick learned that another motion of no confidence was looming but Williams quit before it could be tabled. 

Read in Daily Maverick:Tshwane mayor Randall Williams steps down, thus avoiding another motion of no confidence

With Williams’ resignation, a new mayor had to be found. While the multiparty coalition agreed on Brink — a former Tshwane councillor and DA regional chairperson of Gauteng North — the ANC did not field an alternative candidate. Good party councillor Sarah Mabotsa said she would vote for Brink “because the last thing Tshwane needs is the kind of political manipulation and instability that led to the appointment of a lame-duck, or “placeholder”, mayor in Johannesburg”. 

During Tuesday’s council sitting, the African Transformation Movement nominated Makwarela to become mayor against Brink. 

In the end, Makwarela received 112 votes against Brinks’s 102. 

Now, the multiparty coalition is fuming and trying to find who voted for Makwarela instead of Brink. 

Visit Daily Maverick’s home page for more news, analysis and investigations

Brink told reporters after the sitting he would remain as a councillor in a bid to identify the councillors who voted for Makwarela. 

In a statement, the multiparty coalition said it held a majority since 2021 and continued to hold a majority. 

“As has become standard with the ANC and EFF, it is clear that some councillors from within the coalition were induced to break ties with the coalition and support Makwarela”, the statement read. 

The coalition said it condemned councillors who accepted the election on the party’s campaigning for change “only to assist the ANC and EFF to get elected against the will of the residents of Tshwane”. 

The parties will now work to identify the councillors who voted against Brink. “These councillors will be removed and replaced with urgency ahead of a motion of no confidence that will be tabled to remove Makwarela from his ill-gotten office,” said the statement issued by Freedom Front Plus MP Cornè Mulder on behalf of the coalition. 

Latest loss for the DA in Gauteng 

This is the latest loss from the DA in Gauteng — with the removal of Mpho Phalatse as City of Johannesburg mayor in January.  Also in danger of losing her job is Ekurhuleni mayor Tania Campbell, as there are indications of another motion of no confidence against her. DM


Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • A Concerned Citizen says:

    These coalition politics are so messy and put people at ransom for political and personal gain. It is ridiculous that small parties with almost no elected representation can wield such power. Suppose the ANC loses its majority support in the next elections (which is probable, not just possible) and there needs to be a non-ANC-led coalition government. In that case, there needs to be as strong an alternative as possible to govern in as uncomplicated a coalition as possible. Without a strong, united, opposition coalition, the ANC will keep working with smaller parties that do not have democratically supported mandates and will be given undeserved political power. Unfortunately, a vote for a minor party at this point condemns us to more of this post-2024. It’s ANC or DA, really.

  • Carsten Rasch says:

    South African politicians obviously cannot be trusted. We are fools to think they will do what they promised to do. Our country is being destroyed by overweight, trough-feeding, dishonest and treacherous politicians. If this is what’s happening on a local level, why would it be any different nationally? Wtf are we going to do??

  • L Dennis says:

    Thank you for going after those who let you down. Taxpayers and rate payers are sick of power hungry politicians. We need the good political parties DA Action SA Afriforum and others that is their to serve the public. Not a bunch of money hungry locusts.

  • Hansie Louw says:

    I am delighted with this outcome surprise. I am happy that the DA lost their footing here. I am sad that the only thing on the mind of the members of the majority coalition is to find out who the “traitors” were, to then replace them and to remove the newly elected mayor.

    It is a fundamental flaw in the system to have parties dictate the vote for a mayor. By the same token I believe it is important that a mayor is independent of party politics. If he or she is elected the resignation from a political party should be automatic. The same would apply to premiers and the President of the country.

    There is extremely limited accountability to the voting public – that needs to stop. A ward should be able to recall a councillor or member of parliament (a number of wards together).

    I was involved in the Multi Party Forum that managed to snatch the mayor for the City of Cape Town from the ANC/ID group when Hellen Zille became mayor. The DA is not my most favourite party in the light of what I experienced back then. It does not seem if anything has changed. What we did not have in those days is that the councillors were continually seeking to change the Mayor like we see happening at the moment.

    Helen Zille and Patricia de Lille are strong leaders, maybe “too strong” if I look at the fight of the DA against de Lille. The ordinary voter wants results and does not care too much about who is in control.

    The political parties view it differently – a pity.

    Let’s change the system.

  • Abel Mngadi says:

    This is a worrying trend as the focus is now on motions of no-confidence. This is turning into a farce as the focus is no longer on service delivery but playing this game of no-confidence. They have no shame these politicians.

  • Johan Buys says:

    And STILL the “opposition” parties play stupid games. Former prisoner zuma must be giggling. They are dancing exactly how he wanted them to, down to his prodigal son Malema. The opposition needs a strong man statesman leader – not that isn’t the Madam.

  • Eberhard Knapp says:

    I fully agree with Hansie – but there is more to this disaster!
    The DA shot themselves in the foot. Just as they did with Jo’burg and their coalition partner there!
    Coalition means respecting a partner – which Steenkamp chose not to do –
    In Tshwane – Dr. Makwarela acted perfectly correct in the matter of the resignation of Mr. Williams – but the DA (Steenhuisen??) did not like that. So COPE was “fired”. Hey – that’s not done in a coalition!!! Mr Steenhuisen, this is not how coalition politics work!
    And – you should allow the local politicians “on the ground” sort out matters. They know best – what is best for their City / Town (because THAT is what it really should be about!!)
    To me it seems you are also applying the ANC’S “deployment policy”: where party leadership tells you what to do / decide vote for. Which is rubbish!!
    Once elected, a politician should be accountable only and exclusively to his / her own CONSCIENCE!
    Mr. Steenhuisen – it is time for you to take a break – and let Mpho take over from you soon!! I do hope that will happen in April!!!

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