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Chaotic revolving door continues to spin as Joburg gears up for ninth executive mayor in seven years

Chaotic revolving door continues to spin as Joburg gears up for ninth executive mayor in seven years
Former Executive Mayor of the City of Joburg Thapelo Amad (Photo by Gallo Images/Luba Lesolle)|Al-Jama-ah councillor, Kabelo Gwamanda.Photo:Supplied|Colleen Makhubele (Photo by Gallo Images/Papi Morake)| ANC Gauteng Chairperson and Gauteng Premier Panyaza Lesufi.(Photo by Gallo Images/Papi Morake)

Coalition partners have until Tuesday 2 May to negotiate and haggle over who should be the next executive mayor of Johannesburg.

The ANC and EFF’s political alliance in Johannesburg is set to be divided on who should become the 9th executive mayor of the country’s richest metro after Thapelo Amad’s overnight resignation.   

The alliance is in conversation with its partners on who should succeed Amad who reluctantly resigned after 87 days in office, and who was due to face a motion of no confidence on Tuesday.    

The new mayor will be the ninth since the 2016 local government elections.

His resignation, however, meant the council executive had been dissolved, with speaker Colleen Makhubele announcing that the sitting would not go ahead and that a sitting to elect a new mayor would take place after the long weekend on Tuesday, 2 May, 2023. This buys the ANC enough time to consult on Amad’s replacement.

Read more in Daily Maverick: Joburg to get another no-name brand mayor as Thapelo Amad walks the plank 

Daily Maverick understands that three names have been thrown in the hat — Kabelo Gwamanda, one of the three Al Jama-ah councillors in the city, Cope councillor and speaker Colleen Makhubele and one of two African Independent Congress (AIC) councillors, Margaret Arnolds.  

This comes after PA’s Gayton McKenzie previously raised his hand for the top job, but has since withdrawn, with the party emphasising that he focuses on the party’s campaign ahead of the 2024 elections. 

A source in the council said negotiations from Monday night had been intense with Al Jama-ah threatening to walk out of the coalition if Gwamanda is not the minority bloc’s candidate. This was however met with reluctance according to the source. 

“Some people fear he might just be exactly like Thapelo [Amad] and want the other  (minority) parties like a chance and that is how the name of Margaret came up. 

“There were also strong views to have Collen [Makhubele] steer the ship, this is obviously because of her impeccable track record as speaker, she’s capacitated and confident, and most importantly, she won’t be a puppet of the ANC,” he said.  

By the end of the meeting on Monday night, the ruling party had not decided on a name. “They are all panted because the ANC is divided no longer twofold but threefold.”  

Arnolds would not provide details on the content of the meeting but  described it as progressive, vigorous and “brutally honest”. 

“We were brutally honest in what we had to say in the discussions, it wasn’t about anyone, but rather about how we take the city forward, bring stability and deliver services,” she told Daily Maverick

Meanwhile, the Patriotic Alliance’s Kenny Kunene said, “In terms of our agreement, it is the prerogative of the ANC to give us a candidate to be a mayor, then we’ll make our inputs. There was an agreement that a candidate would come from the minority group. 

“The ANC is going to consult its structures from what we have been told then they will come back to us before the council sitting next week Tuesday with their preferred candidate, and then we will express our view.”  

Kunene was hopeful that the ANC would endorse a candidate that would be able to stay on until 2026.  

ANC Gauteng chairperson, Panyaza Lesufi, who announced Amad’s resignation on Monday night, confirmed the coalition had not finalised the candidature of the mayor and would do so soon. 

Motion of no confidence 

Lesufi shot down allegations that the coalition had been unstable, saying it had strength and delivered services across the city.  

He also poured cold water over allegations that Amad has resigned to avoid Tuesday’s no-confidence motion.

“Councillor Thapelo did not resign because we are scared of the motion, we have the numbers, there is not a single coalition partner that has left,  which simply means that any motion that was going to be tabled [on Tuesday], we were going to crush it. But if Thapelo feels that the interest of the coalition is compromised and feels that we need to keep this coalition intact and therefore he should step aside, we accepted that reluctantly so.   

Read more in Daily MaverickAll hail the imaginative Johannesburg Mayor Thapelo Amad!

Despite Amad showing himself as a woeful incumbent during his 87-day-long tenure, having promised a big fix for the beleaguered city within 100 days, Lesufi hinted Amad would not be shown the door. “We are on record that even though he’s resigning, this coalition has committed that it will take care of him…”  

“As a collective, we remain. As soon as we finalise the candidature of the new mayor we will be in a position to move together. Whatever the motion against the speaker, the chief whip, we are ready to crush it.”  

The DA’s Gauteng provincial leader,  Fred Nel said it had been disappointing that Amad, another “puppet mayor”, was manipulated by the ANC/EFF/PA coalition of corruption for personal gains.  

“By supporting Amad as mayor the ANC/EFF/PA sabotaged service delivery and placed their personal interests above the interest of Johannesburg residents,” he said.  

This as he announced the party would once again nominate former executive mayor, Dr Mpho Phalatse for the position on Tuesday, citing she had a proven track record and understanding of the needs of the people of Johannesburg. 

Daily Maverick previously reported that the ANC and the EFF are using Gauteng’s three major cities (Johannesburg, Pretoria — the Tshwane council — and Ekurhuleni) as battlefields for a political alliance that will kick in after the national and provincial elections of 2024. The governing ANC is likely to lose the urban province of Gauteng, which is always more politically choosy than the rural heartlands of the party. It is shoring up support by giving in to the upstart EFF’s whims in the three cities. The EFF is a kingmaker party which can win up to 13% of the national vote in 2024, polling by Ipsos has shown. 

Read more in Daily Maverick: Coalition Country

In an interview with eNCA, Makhubele described the pending motion of no-confidence brought by ActionSA and the DA against her as cheap politicking, while Panyaza vowed that she would be protected.  

“This is just cheap politics to disrupt the city of Johannesburg. They are interrupting the good work that the executive mayor and his team were busy with on the ground, I think they could see the much progress that was being made, almost every day, every weekend we would see the MMCs in the ground doing what they were supposed to do, unlike what we had seen in the multiparty. That cannot sit well if you are an opposition [candidate], so I do believe that these are ill-motivated motions of no confidence,” said Makhubele.

The eight mayors since 2016 are:

1. Parks Tau (2016)
2. Herman Mashaba (2016/19)
3. Geoff Makhubu (2020/21)
4. Mpho Moerane (2021)
5. Jolidee Matongo (2021)
6. Mpho Phalatse (2021/22)
7. Dada Morero (2022)
8. Thapelo Amad (2023)

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