Pretoria - Debate between the ruling ANC and main opposition DA in the Tshwane Metro Council sank to a new low on Friday, characterised by a death threat, insults, reference to a sex organ and questioning each others’ intelligence.
DA chief whip Marietha Aucamp said MMC Terrence Mashego should be reported to the rules and ethics committee for telling Jan van Zyl “… as ek met jou klaar is ou man, sal jy daar dood lê” (“when am finished with you old man, you will be lying on the ground dead”).
Aucamp described this as “primitive, unlawful unethical and unacceptable”, and said she hoped the record of the meeting would not disappear.
Mashego refused to withdraw the statement.
In response, Van Zyl said Mashego was a young man who thought he was good, “but I have seen good and bad councillors in my time”.
The special meeting at Sammy Marks council chambers was debating the R24.7 billion budget presented by mayor Kgosientso Ramokgopa earlier in the week, consisting of a R23.3bn operating budget and R4.1bn capital budget, with a surplus of R1bn.
As debate got under way, Ramokgopa was described by DA’s Darryl Moss as a puppet of Luthuli House (ANC headquarters), who was not in the first instance responsible to the people of Tshwane.
The usually calm speaker of council, Morakane Mosupyoe-Letsholo, lost her cool after her tough stance on attempting to control proceedings were met with an “aaaggg” from the DA half of the chamber. The DA members were annoyed at the perceived lack of protection from the speaker.
ANC representatives randomly and freely threw jibes and references to the perceived faults of DA-controlled Cape Town and highlighted their party’s successes nationally and provincially.
The DA councillors meanwhile gave as good as they got and reminded the ruling party of their intention to take over Tshwane in the 2016 local government elections. They also pointed to the corruption and maladministration of the ANC government.
Matters went from bad to worse when ANC’s Johnny Mohlala said those who voted against the budget would be judged by the people and God.
Mohlala then mentioned a penis, saying it was not its size that mattered but its strength, and what it was capable of delivering.
When questioned about refusing to speak to DA councillors at the by-election on Wednesday, Mohlala said “it was midnight and the complainant is not someone whose company I prefer at that time of the night”.
The response was equally stinging: “You wish,” said a voice from the DA section.
Mapiti Matsena, of the ANC, accused the DA of complaining about disrespect when its members were in fact the ones who were disrespectful.
DA’s Celliers Brink told council he would want to see finance MMC Dorothy Mabiletsa delivering the budget speech (instead of the mayor).
He was later described by Ramokgopa as a young man whose views should not be glorified with an answer.
Ramokgopa explained council rules dictated that the mayor delivered the budget and not the MMC.
Mashego hit back on behalf of the mayor, describing Moss as a puppet of the AWB.
He said the DA would vote against the budget because its members were wired to “reject, reject and reject”, everything the ANC did.
Amid the insults, Moss said the average 9.6 percent increase in water, electricity and sanitation tariffs was above inflation and this meant residents would have to dig deeper into their pockets.
He told the special meeting the budget delivered was “willy-nilly, without very much detail and with no comparative data”.
The DA would like to see a budget where more money is allocated towards infrastructure repairs, maintenance and upgrading, and with special attention on revenue collection.
The party’s caucus leader Gert Pretorius added that while inflation on a year to year basis was below 6 percent, the mayor saw it fit to announce increases of more than 3 percent above inflation.
He said this implied that the mayor had lost touch with his residents.
Representatives of the African Christian Democratic Party, Freedom Party Plus and the African People’s Convention praised various aspects of the budget, particularly allocations for safety, taxi ranks, greening projects and formalisation of informal settlements.
Rounding up the debate, Ramokgopa said he attended the meeting even though he was sick, thinking he was going to listen to smart people, but was disappointed to find they were (behaving) like children.
He again explained key aspects of the budget and questioned why anyone would want to object to a budget that provided for the rollout of free wi-fi, green bond, buses that used non-compressed gas and other projects.
“In their state of mind, they would approve it, but the default position in the DA is default,” he said.
The meeting deteriorated further as more shameful scenes unfolded, from the debate on the integrated development plans and later when the ordinary sitting of monthly council meeting started at about 4pm.
Mabona claimed that Aucamp assaulted him when she handed him a list of the DA speakers.
The alleged assault happenedduring the lunch break of the combined special meeting to debate and budget and integrated development plans, and ordinary sitting of council on Friday.
Mabona told council he took exception to the manner in which Aucamp confronted him.
Mayor Ramokgopa said he saw the incident and was making himself available to testify when the matter was investigated.
Aucamp did not respond to council, but later told the Pretoria News that no assault had happened.