Council Speaker Katlego Mathebe was forced to reconvene the council sitting at a different venue at Tshwane Events Centre after ANC councillors turned the occasion into a commemoration of the late Struggle icon Solomon Mahlangu.
The unruly councillors chanted Struggle songs in defiance of Mathebe’s plea for them to sit down and be quiet, and refused to leave the venue after being ordered to leave.
Once left on their own, the ANC’s Lesego Makhubela and Joel Masilela declared themselves mayor and speaker respectively.
Party leader Mapiti Matsena said all the ANC councillors wanted was for council to honour the legacy of Mahlangu for at least 15 minutes.
The Soca coincided with the day on which Mahlangu was hanged by the apartheid regime on April 6, 1979.
“The ANC’s standpoint in terms of its caucus was that the Soca must continue,” he said.
Matsena’s tune changed from the call he made before the Soca that the occasion be postponed out of respect of the 38th anniversary of the execution of Mahlangu.
He expressed his displeasure at Msimanga and Mathebe for denying council an opportunity to honour Mahlangu.
“During the previous council meeting we had a discussion with the mayor and he promised that he would look into the proposal to honour Mahlangu,” Matsena said.
He said the ANC felt betrayed by Msimanga, who never saw a need to give feedback to the party afterwards.
“The mayor never spoke to direct members of the family and never saw a need to speak to us.”
Mayoral spokesperson Samkelo Mgobozi said the stunt pulled by the ANC on Thursday was cheap politicking.
“It is this cheap politicking coupled with their inability to accept the August 3 electoral defeat that informs their actions. It is not the legacy of Mahlangu as they purport,” he said.
The ANC had said that continuing with Soca on April 6 would desecrate the memory of Mahlangu, but Mgobozi said the assertion was bizarre.
“In fact, it is they who seek to insult the memory of this hero who fought for our people to have a better life rooted in freedom, fairness and opportunity for all and not just for some,” Mgobozi said.
He said Msimanga would pay tribute to Mahlangu and set out his plans to give effect to his legacy to the people for whom he sacrificed his life.
The decision to host Soca was taken in September last year and the ANC had not registered any dissenting vote, he said.
Matsena, on the other hand, said April 6 was part of the city calendar every year to honour Mahlangu’s life.
“We were not politicking. We went to the gallows on Thursday morning to remember Mahlangu. We just wanted the council to honour the legacy of Mahlangu,” Matsena said.
He said councillors also protested against Mathebe’s ruling to remove all of them.
“The speaker said that somebody murmured at the back that ‘if you are going to remove one ANC councillor you better remove all of us’,” he said.
The SAPS and the Tshwane metro police were called in to remove ANC councillors.
Matsena said the SAPS commander refused to act against them because he never wanted to be drawn into the DA-ANC politicking.
“We asked him to call the speaker and the chief whip so that we can engage them and he left at that point,” he said.