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Joburg speaker Colleen Makhubele axed by party – council turmoil deepens

Joburg speaker Colleen Makhubele axed by party – council turmoil deepens
City of Johannesburg speaker Colleen Makhubele has bee axed by her party, Cope. (Photo: Gallo Images / Luba Lesolle)

Cope has axed its only Johannesburg councillor and city council speaker, Colleen Makhubele. What happens next is anyone’s guess.

Johannesburg Council speaker Colleen Makhubele was fired as Cope’s only member in council on Monday, leaving the local assembly in turmoil. Officials were unable to speculate on the next steps in a city where the mayor, city manager and council speaker have clouds hanging over their heads.

Cope leader Mosioua Lekota axed Makhubele on Monday for starting a political alliance, the SA Rainbow Alliance (Sara), without his sign-off. By the weekend, the streets of Johannesburg were plastered with Rainbow Alliance posters on green glossy paper.

joburg spealer axed

Johannesburg speaker Colleen Makhubele has been axed by Cope for starting her own political formation, the SA Rainbow Alliance, without the party’s approval. (Photo: Supplied)

joburg councillor axed

By the weekend, the streets of Johannesburg were plastered with Rainbow Alliance posters. (Photo: Supplied)

The alliance does not have a website or information available to the public. However, it appears to be a small party alliance that Makhubele has nurtured, as discussions on future coalitions support the view that parties must pass a size threshold to govern.

Makhubele, for example, is Cope’s only member, while city Mayor Kabelo Gwamanda’s Al Jama-ah party has only one other member in the council. Bigger political parties use micro formations like Cope and Al Jama-ah as proxies in coalitions to fight more significant power battles.

Sara appears to have gone public at the weekend, mainly through the social media account of Bishop Marothi J Mashasha – and it has money. Its poster campaign is slick and Makhubele is its face. Sara calls itself a “pact comprising like-minded minority parties, civic organisations, churches and faith-based organisations”.

By Monday afternoon, city manager Floyd Brink had yet to receive a letter from Cope – a letter he needed to call a special council meeting to elect a new speaker. 

Cope has previously suspended Makhubele when she voted to oust DA Speaker Vasco da Gama, but Lekota saw her as a protegé and reinstated her.

In July, Makhubele said in an interview that she had ambitions to lead Cope. Last week, Cope rapped her over the knuckles for going against the party’s position on the Israel-Palestine war. Makhubele supports Israel and last week also came out in support of Woolworths after EFF leader Julius Malema criticised the retailer for stocking products from Israel.

In a career of only two years, the political entrepreneur has become Cope’s second most prominent face. She faces a criminal complaint for the alleged misuse of council resources to build her base. In coalition negotiations to trounce the former DA mayor, Mpho Phalatse, she played a deft hand, using her single seat to win a plum position.

“[Makhubele] was a good speaker. She brought order and decorum to the house and ran meetings well,” said a senior official of one of the coalition parties not mandated to speak publicly. But the DA has painted a picture of a speaker with little respect for oversight. In September, the party complained in a letter to the national government of gross failures and collapse of oversight functions within the Johannesburg council legislature.

The 16-page memorandum to the Department of Cooperative Governance, which oversees the work of councils, laid out how meetings were not held on time and said Makhubele needed to attend oversight meetings.

“As the Democratic Alliance, we do not believe that the Speaker is discharging her duties in line with either legislation or the standing rules and orders of Council and thus request intervention…”

Gwamanda is facing a Financial Sector Conduct Authority investigation for running a dodgy community fundraising scheme.

On 6 November, the high court said Brink’s appointment was invalid.

Read more in Daily Maverick: Court finds Floyd Brink’s appointment as Joburg city manager ‘unconstitutional, unlawful and invalid’

A civil society crisis coalition, the Johannesburg Crisis Alliance, has written to President Cyril Ramaphosa asking him to place Johannesburg under administration. 

Last week, Business Leadership SA warned of anarchy in Johannesburg and supported the call for action. This was after raw sewage flowed in the streets during the Soweto Marathon and was live-streamed to a shocked audience. DM


Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Denise Smit says:

    She gets what was coming to her. I wonder what it costs to look like her at her age? A fortune. Denise Smit

    • Bob Dubery says:

      Seriously, why is this any of anybody’s business or have any bearing on the position she held? Do we expect all woman councillors to be plain, even dowdy?

  • Denise Smit says:

    The cookie is crumbling further in Gauteng. Denise Smit

  • Greeff Kotzé says:

    A few random observations:

    “Building World Class African Citizens”
    How does one build a citizen? Is there an assembly line somewhere?

    “…but Lekota saw her as a protegé and reinstated her.”
    I’d wager that Lekota must be feeling a right fool now.

    “Its poster campaign is slick and Makhubele is its face.”
    I know accusing people of being CIA assets are a dime a dozen in this country, but if ever there was a candidate…

    “…asking him to place Johannesburg under administration.”
    Skip that and just dissolve the council already. Time for fresh elections to (hopefully) end the clown show in Joburg.

    • D'Esprit Dan says:

      Greeff, Lekota has so many other things in his bag of tricks to be feeling foolish over, I doubt that this little speedbump is anything for him to lose sleep over!

  • Con Tester says:

    Ramaposeur’s history convincingly shows that writing him with the aim of prompting some concrete action on his part, is an exercise in utter futility. Therefore, the Johannesburg Crisis Alliance’s letter to him can only be either a showpiece contrived for self-promotion, or a necessary prelude for a stronger course of action.

    Time will tell which it is.

  • D'Esprit Dan says:

    And as we suffer with blackouts, water shortages, potholes, crime, filth in our streets, exploding streets, burning buildings, homelessness, joblessness and lawlessness, the ruling coalition – the brainchild of Panyaza Lesufi, who declared Kabelo Gwamanda the best candidate for Mayor – blunders from one buffoon-ridden crisis to another. Pathetic, disgusting and entirely in step with the arrogant elite giving us the bird.

  • Jana Krejci says:


  • nima egumbo says:

    She is pure and good looking and reportedly a good administrator and eloquent speaker. Which political party would not want that as its face?

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