City of Joburg’s attempt to elect mayor stalls again after ANC caucus throws spanner in the works
Tuesday’s sitting of the turbulent City of Johannesburg Council, in which a new mayor was supposed to be voted in, was marred by delays, leading to an adjournment until Friday.
Al Jama-ah councillor Kabelo Gwamanda’s mayoral candidacy appeared to be set in stone for the ANC and EFF-led coalition until the governing party’s caucus expressed a desire to field their own candidate for mayor of the City of Johannesburg.
The key metro position is vacant after Al Jama-ah’s Thapelo Amad quit as mayor ahead of a motion of no confidence against him just more than a week ago.
A number of sources within the party’s Johannesburg region explained that Gauteng chairperson Panyaza Lesufi and secretary Thembinkosi “TK” Nciza were at the council meeting to brief councillors about the direction the informal coalition would be taking in voting for a new mayor. This, however, met strong opposition from caucus members who believed that regional chairperson Dada Morero should be their candidate.
Speaking to Daily Maverick, ANC Johannesburg secretary Sasabona Manganye confirmed that the caucus raised issues about Gwamanda’s candidacy. He explained that the main argument from the perspective of the caucus was based on the new ANC framework, which states that the biggest party in a coalition should be elected mayor. However, the ANC had very little room to change its posture because of its agreement with the EFF. “Remember, the EFF wanted Ekurhuleni and then we get Johannesburg, but we refused. So, that meant that minority parties would have to get the mayoral position… We all want an ANC mayor, including the provincial leadership. The problem is not internal, it is more about the agreement of the EFF… The reality is that we will not be able to govern without the vote of the EFF,” he said.
Read more in Daily Maverick: Chaotic revolving door continues to spin as Joburg gears up for ninth executive mayor in seven years
Manganye is also quite confident in Gwamanda’s capabilities, despite Amad’s botched stint as first citizen of the city. He said Amad’s performance should not be a reflection of Al Jama-ah.
“He [Gwamanda] is the national head of policy and strategy and was an adviser for the executive mayor during the tenures of Geoff Makhubo, Jolidee Matongo and Mpho Moerane. He is the secretary of the minority parties in council,” Manganye said.
If the ANC (with 91 seats) and EFF (with 29 seats), partner with the Patriotic Alliance (PA), United Independent Movement, Al Jama-ah, the African Independent Congress (AIC), African Heart Congress, UDM, Good, Cope and the African Transformation Movement (ATM), it will be enough to vote in Gwamanda as the first citizen of Johannesburg.
Al Jama-ah has three seats in the metro, thus holding the most seats among the minority parties which may vote in line with the ANC-EFF – for instance, the Congress of the People has one seat and the AIC has two seats.
JUST IN: Following hours of deliberations the ANC+ EFF coalition has decided that Al Jama -ah’s Kabelo Gwamanda will be their candidate. #JoburgCouncil
— Queenin Masuabi (@Queenin_M) May 2, 2023
ActionSA’s Funzi Ngobeni will be fielded as a candidate by his own party in the hope that he will receive the DA’s backing. However, the DA has its own candidate, former mayor Mpho Phalatse.
ActionSA does have the backing of other smaller parties, but this will not be enough to ensure Ngobeni is victorious. Even with the backing of the DA it will need additional support, which it is hoping to get from the PA.
ActionSA’s national chairperson, Michael Beaumont, told the media on Tuesday evening that they had been open to negotiating with several parties. “We have been in continuous talks with the PA and we are talks with other political parties that have been involved in that coalition – many of them who have been despondent about what is going on here today and many of them who are embarrassed to be part of a group of parties who cannot get their act together and have a council meeting and elect a mayor,” he said.
More than four hours of delays
The council sitting started at 10am with the first two agenda items going ahead, but when it was time for a new mayor to be elected, the EFF requested an hour caucus break.
The break was to discuss who would be the final candidate for the ANC-EFF led coalition. The three candidates they had to deliberate about were the Speaker Cope’s Colleen Makhubele, the AIC’s Margaret Arnolds and Gwananda.
After the break, Morero asked for a three-hour recess which would include a lunch break. ATM councillor Lubabalo Magwentshu asked for a one-hour break, which was granted along with an additional 20 minutes which was requested thereafter.
When Al Jama-ah asked for yet another break, its request was met by discontent from members of the DA and ActionSA.
ActionSA’s Lerato Ngobeni felt it would be a waste of time and taxpayers’ hard-earned money. “May I remind this house Speaker that it cost taxpayers of the city almost half a million rand to hold this council sitting. To that end, Speaker, we therefore [beseech] you to exercise your legislation and powers to preside over these council proceedings. Let this meeting end with a duly elected executive mayor of this city. Please move for us to vote today,” she pleaded.
Makhubele adjourned the meeting, saying the council was not ready to elect new leadership. The sitting will resume on Friday.
The election of a new mayor will be the ninth since the 2016 local government elections. DM
JUST IN: The City of Joburg Council has been adjourned. Council speaker Colleen Makhubele believes that councillors are not ready to elect new leadership because of the continued requests for caucus breaks. #JoburgCouncil pic.twitter.com/t0vcZeyCxU
— Queenin Masuabi (@Queenin_M) May 2, 2023