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Johannesburg Council gets another minority-party speaker – the AIC’s Margaret Arnolds

Johannesburg Council gets another minority-party speaker – the AIC’s Margaret Arnolds
Margaret Arnolds is the newly elected speaker of Johannesburg Council, November 20, 2023. (Photo by Gallo Images/Papi Morake)

The Johannesburg Council has elected yet another speaker from a one-seat political party, while the DA was a no-show.

The African Independent Congress’s (AIC) Margaret Arnolds was elected speaker unopposed during a special council meeting on Monday. 

This follows former speaker Colleen Makhubele’s axing from her political party, Congress of the People, last week for starting a political alliance, the SA Rainbow Alliance (Sara), without the party’s sign-off.  

Arnold’s election was made possible by the ANC/EFF/PA alliance. 

Speaking afterwards, Arnolds said it was a vote of confidence for minority parties and that she would endeavour to ensure services are delivered to all six million residents.  

“Occupying the position of speaker in council would demonstrate the AIC is able to govern and that we have credible people. Despite being a small party, we are a party with influence. We have been leading the minority party bloc since inception. Rallying the smaller parties together was my brainchild,” she said.     

“As a speaker, I would want to have the confidence of every councillor in the city and not be biased to one lot of councillors. I would want to ensure council is run smoothly and the six million residents of Johannesburg have services delivered to them.”    

The outspoken Arnolds served as an MMC for three terms, including during the tenure of late ANC mayors Geoff Makhubo, Jolidee Matongo and Mpho Moerane. Her latest position was chairperson of the council’s Section 77 committee, which she will now have to relinquish.   

There is no need for the metropolitan municipality to spend R600,000 on an extraordinary meeting just to elect a speaker, when an ordinary council sitting is set to take place next week.

The DA snubbed the council meeting, saying in an email to council chief whip Sithembiso Zungu that it had short notice. 

However, the party’s Joburg caucus leader, Belinda Kayser-Echeozonjoku, said DA councillors boycotted the sitting because it was a waste of money.  

Read more in Daily Maverick: Joburg speaker Colleen Makhubele axed by party – council turmoil deepens 

“The DA will not be complicit in such a waste of money and will therefore not be attending the meeting. Our position remains clear: The Johannesburg Council must be resolved, and we will not give legitimacy to the doomsday coalition, while they are being frivolous with the taxpayers’ money.”  

Kayser-Echeozonjoku said there was no need for the metropolitan municipality to spend R600,000 on an extraordinary meeting just to elect a speaker, when an ordinary council sitting was set to take place next week.

“In a cash-strapped metro, spending R600,000 is no laughing matter. We have been clear: The revolving door of mayors and speakers will not change Johannesburg’s dire situation,” she added.

Reacting to the DA’s no-show, the Gauteng leader of its coalition partner, ActionSA, Funzi Ngobeni, said it had been a missed opportunity to “take back the city”. 

“It is devastating to the residents of Joburg that they will continue to suffer under the failed governance of mayors and speakers from parties with no discernible constituency, whose price for the privilege of leading Africa’s greatest city is for their strings to be pulled by the ANC and the EFF,” he said. 

“Under this arrangement, Joburg’s infrastructure has declined rapidly, the metro centre where all officials use to work is now closed, and services have all but come to a halt. 

“It must be known by every resident of Joburg, and those that look to the DA in Gauteng in 2024, that their suffering under the ANC and EFF is both avoidable and entirely the result of the DA.”  

Read more in Daily Maverick: Coalition Country

This comes amid calls to dissolve the council which the DA intends to bring before a council meeting scheduled for next week. It is, however, unlikely to pass because it does not have the required 180 votes for any motion to pass. 

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 South Africa 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.

  • Graeme de Villiers says:

    This is all just so childish. Aren’t these poeple adults?

  • D'Esprit Dan says:

    Another expensive revolving door, just for the sake of blowing a trumpet. I’m sure R600k could go a long way to finding a permanent solution for the substation in my road that blows up once a week and leaves us without power for days on end. But the ANC, EFF, PA, AIC, etc etc really don’t give a damn about the citizens of Joburg – just the gravy at the end of the rail lines (if they haven’t been stolen).

  • John P says:

    Once again the will of the people has spoken – not

  • Greeff Kotzé says:

    To the DA councillors in Johannesburg: You are paid to be in council — well above the pay of the average South African, for what it part-time work to many of you. Whether you agree that an extraordinary sitting should have been scheduled or not, if you are unable to block it from happening, then you should be there, regardless — instead of grandstanding your convenient absence.

    Or does a portion of your salary now get docked because of your failure to attend? I highly doubt it. The principle of no-work-no-pay seems to not apply to those who are “more equal than others”.

    • Joe Soap says:

      If they attend they are complicit.

      • Malcolm Mitchell says:

        Greef, if you know anything about political science you will know that not sitting in council meetings sends a strong political notice out. Sitting in council meetings is NOT what councilors are paid for, but rather they are paid for advancing the political mandate of their party and its supporters. UNISA offers an excellent course in political science should you wish to learn about politics.

  • Erna Westdyk says:

    Why does an extraordinary council meeting cost R600 000?

  • Cunningham Ngcukana says:

    The Johannesburg community is pissed off with the zoo that runs the city and that seems not to grasp the issues. They have taken electricity load shedding from Eskom and we have had up to 12 hours of load shedding since they have done so. They seem to have disdain for the Constitution, the laws of the country and jurisprudence regarding evictions. They want to be operating outside the law and blame all and sundry with regards the e victions when this jurisprudence has been there for donkey years. This illiteracy is very shameful for people who ought to have an understanding of the law because it is where government is closest to the people. You can hear from the newly elected speaker and the EFF fellow that these people are completely lost that you cannot operate outside the law as a council including the hapless mayor. They need a lot of basic education on the law in particular evictions and other issues including liability for poor maintenance of infrastructure. The DA is not going to be a messiah as they have a lot of mess in Tshwane and they left EkuRHuleni in tatters. Some of the DA supporters on these pages think that Gauteng is like Cape Town and the sooner they get it into their heads that Gauteng is not the Western Cape and it would help the DA a lot also. The complaint by the ActionSA about the absence of the DA when the Speaker was elected speaks a lot of volumes about the Multi Party Charter and the IFP has to be listening.

  • Fanie Rajesh Ngabiso says:

    ActionSA, your comments sadly make you a part of the problem.

    The non-endorsement stance of the DA is a good one.

    Joburg is tanking and evidence clearly shows there is nothing that can be done right now to stop the rot. Only elections can do it.

    So please stop desperately trying to gain votes via destructive sniping at the DA. Put South Africans first and work with them.

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