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Fists, foul language and legal threats fly in Tshwane council after dramatic vote for speaker

Fists, foul language and legal threats fly in Tshwane council after dramatic vote for speaker
ATM’s Mncedi Ndzwanana was elected Tshwane council speaker. (Photo: Twitter)

A volatile, 15-hour council meeting was marred by intermittent adjournments, fist fights among councillors, foul language, objections and counter-objections. Now there is the threat of legal action after the ATM’s Mncedi Ndzwanana was elected speaker.

The City of Tshwane Council multiparty coalition has vowed to go to court after a dramatic defeat at the hands of an EFF/ANC alliance for the position of council speaker early on Tuesday morning.

The IEC declared 67 of the DA-led coalition’s votes spoiled, leaving the coalition with a paltry 35 compared with the EFF/ANC alliance’s 105. A total of 211 were cast.

Party composition of the metro after the 2021 local government elections 

The coalition’s mayoral candidate, Cilliers Brink, cried foul after the meeting – which ran from 10am on Monday until 1.30am on Tuesday – telling Daily Maverick that the IEC had erred in rejecting the coalition’s votes. 

“DA members of the coalition made their mark on the ballot papers in a similar, special way that was agreed upon. We marked our ballots in this unique way under the impression that as long as the mark of the voter’s intention was indicated clearly on the ballot box then the vote [would] go to the intended candidate. For the IEC to declare those ballots as spoiled votes is totally wrong. We are going to seek a declaratory order from court regarding what constitutes a valid vote,’’ said Brink. 

According to insiders who were part of the vote-counting process, DA members marked their ballot papers with “1, 2, 3” instead of the usual tick or cross. Brink refused to explain why they had done this. 

Voting is by secret ballot.

DA ‘blundered’

Tshwane ANC caucus spokesperson Joel Masilela said: “The DA blundered big time in adopting this funny style of voting. The intention here was to track down those who they thought would not vote for the coalition’s candidate. This way of voting was meant to undermine the secrecy of their voters, which is undemocratic and breaks the rules of a free and fair election.”

The contest for the speaker’s position was between Kholofelo Morodi of ActionSA, who was nominated by the coalition, and the EFF/ANC alliance’s candidate Mncedi Ndzwanana of the African Transformation Movement (ATM). Ndzwanana emerged victorious and was then declared the new speaker by city manager Johann Mettler, who presided over the meeting as acting speaker.

Read in Daily Maverick:Putting Tshwane under administration again ‘not likely’ as city reels from adverse audit and mayor’s resignation

The volatile, 15-hour council meeting was marred by intermittent adjournments, fist fights among councillors, foul language, objections and counter-objections. When the meeting started at 10am, it was immediately adjourned as ANC/EFF alliance members raised their concern with the fact that ActionSA councillor Nkele Molapo would not be allowed to participate in the meeting because she had been expelled from the party on Sunday evening. 

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The ANC/EFF alliance opined that the meeting should not proceed but wait for the court’s decision as Molapo had apparently gone to the High Court in Pretoria to seek an urgent interdict against the acting speaker and the IEC. 

When the meeting resumed at 1pm, Mettler ruled that the council would proceed without Molapo since the council had not received an interdict preventing it from continuing its business. 

Voting for the speaker was done twice after the first session was disrupted by ANC/ EFF alliance members who were angered by allegations that some DA councillors openly showed their ballots to fellow coalition members before slotting them into the ballot box. 

A fist fight broke out and Mettler, after consulting with the IEC, cancelled the voting session and called for a fresh round of voting. He announced that ballots cast in the first session of voting would be quarantined. The results of the second round, in which Ndzwanana won, were announced two hours after voting had been completed, amid bickering about the admissibility of votes believed to have been cast by DA members in an unusual manner. 

In his acceptance speech, Ndzwanana said: “I want to thank the people of Tshwane for putting their faith in me by giving me the position of council speaker. Going forward, I want to inculcate a culture where there are no big parties or small parties but all parties are treated equally in the City of Tshwane council.”

Ndzwanana is the sole ATM representative in the council.

Molapo responds

On being unable to take part in the voting process for the new speaker due to her expulsion from ActionSA, Molapo said: “Although I was subjected to a disciplinary hearing, I was expelled from ActionSA before the process could be completed. And I was informed of my expulsion at 7.30pm on Sunday evening. This was a strategy to prevent me from taking part in the election of the new speaker of the Council on Monday. I am accused of being responsible for collaborating with some of ActionSA’s councillors to vote against coalition candidate Cilliers Brink. I voted for Brink and I even passed the lie-detector test which I was subjected to by the party.” 

ActionSA, however, said on Monday that Molapo had been expelled from the party for plotting the downfall of Brink, who was defeated on 28 February by Cope’s Dr Murunwa Makwarela for the position of mayor. Over two weeks the latter was removed as mayor, reinstated, then resigned over a scandal concerning the paperwork for his claimed rehabilitation for insolvency.

Quashing rumours that Molapo had been fired for having close links with expelled former leader of ActionSA in Tshwane Abel Tau, the party’s Michael Beaumont said: “ActionSA further notes reports alleging that senate terminated Molapo’s membership based solely on her personal relationship with Mr Tau. This isn’t true.”  

Earlier in February, ActionSA announced that it was going to get rid of misbehaving members in the City of Tshwane. 

Read more in Daily Maverick:ActionSA to ‘root out’ wrongdoing by its members in the City of Tshwane caucus”

Now, in what some political commentators see as a purge of ActionSA leaders by party leader Herman Mashaba in Gauteng, another prominent member, Gauteng leader Bongani Baloyi, has also left the party after falling out with Mashaba. “Following meetings held between ActionSA president Herman Mashaba and Bongani Baloyi, it has been mutually agreed that ActionSA and Baloyi will go their separate ways. While it is evident that irreconcilable differences exist between Baloyi and ActionSA’s national leadership, these issues relate to differences arising from the running of the province,” the party said on Monday. DM


Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • L Dennis says:

    Careful of the locusts

  • Johan Buys says:

    What a circus! 2024 is around the corner and then coalitions will be critical to functioning of national and provincial functions.

    Fraser and former prisoner jacob zuma must be laughing their heads off. The clowns in opposition parties are playing exactly the game that suits the ANC.

    None of this is funny for the people of this country

  • David Edwards says:

    Will the IEC maintain free and fair elections in 2024 if the ANC is not receiving the majority of the votes, or will they declare large batches as spoiled?

  • Willem Boshoff says:

    Massive own goal by the DA. A secret ballot is supposed to be…. er, secret. I certainly expect better from the official opposition.

  • Rory Macnamara says:

    when did the way to vote change? in a square it was from corner to another making a X.
    Typical politicians changing what is not broken and not fixing what is broken

  • Cunningham Ngcukana says:

    The insults on the IEC by the DA have no basis and they have no legal case at all. What they are doing in attacking the IEC is to hide their own stupidity driven by very funny motives. Elections when they are secret should have no mark to identify the voter or voters otherwise there would be no use to have a secret ballot if the voters could be identified afterwards. They can go to court and get a free legal lecture with whatever lawyers would be representing them. If you do not trust your caucus as a party you cannot make it the burden of the IEC and go around sullying its name without any proper cause. The notion of parachuting people from outside the council to be mayors is another DA nonsense that to any person with a proper coefficient of thinking justifies their councillors to vote the way they want because their party has no confidence in them anyway. This is a very good lesson for the DA and the ActionSA must use numbers when voting for the Mayor because clearly the conduct of the DA showed that they did not want the Speaker from ActionSA. This is to return the favour to the DA and say the nonsense they are spewing. They spoilt their votes and there is no question about it. How have they been voting in the past? The DA must look for fools elsewhere. Their tricks caught up with them. They tell the fellow to go back where he comes from.

  • Lesley Young says:

    ….and the rest of the World looks on with bemusement, as attempts are made to attract foreign investment.

  • D'Esprit Dan says:

    Pathetic. From all of the parties. They simply don’t care about South Africans, just lining their pockets and playing arrogant one-upmanship. Listening to interviews with these parties, none of them sound like they have the first clue how to administer a city properly, because all they care about is poring over the legalese of how to vote in chambers. What a waste of taxpayer money.

  • Paddy Ross says:

    How can this one seat ATM individual have the nerve to “Thank the people of Tshwane” when the ‘people’ have had no say in this power grab by two corrupt parties who could not care less about the welfare of the ‘people’? Why should all the parties be equal in the council when the voters have voted otherwise?

  • Paddy Ross says:

    In reply to Willem Boshoff, there are councillors in Tshwane who are obviously open to the highest bidder for their votes irrespective of what is in the interests of the people of Tshwane. The DA and ActionSA are merely trying to identify these unprincipled members of their party. How come a thumbprint can be a legal ‘signature’ but a number instead of a cross not indicate one’s support for a person standing for election?

  • Hermann Funk says:

    I shall puke when any politician tells me that he/she has the interest of citizens at heart.

  • Luan Sml says:

    Quite frankly, childish tit for tat tactics by all political parties involved… our local governments cannot function in a coalition, because there’s no thought for the voters!

  • Mpumi Bikitsha says:

    All of this is a joke. Can Jesus come down now and rescue us from these fools whose nose(s) are simply smelling the trough? Lord help us!

  • Shirley Gobey says:

    Whoever in the DA decided on this idea should be expelled. What an embarrassment. Something needs to change, it is undemocratic when a person with 1 seat has so much power. This is not what the people of Tshwane voted for, only the council’s will.

  • Mike Schroeder says:

    Can you say “Banana Republic”

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