Pretoria - Members of the DA caucus in the City of Tshwane did not take kindly to being likened to a “bunch of dogs who just bark and did nothing” by executive mayor Kgosientso Ramokgopa. They staged a brief walkout before returning to the council chamber, only to be ordered out by the speaker.
Not to be outdone, the DA representatives have responded with a punch of their own, accusing the ANC and Ramokgopa of resorting to fascist politics.
The DA has also accused Ramokgopa and council speaker Morakane Mosupye-Letsholo of failing to enforce discipline at the meeting, and for being too biased towards the ruling party.
The DA is now considering approaching the courts to have the meeting declared null and void.
Ramokgopa, meanwhile, said he took exception to a reference of his conduct as being fascist and would lodge a complaint with the Human Rights Commission and the Equality Court.
Ramokgopa told the Pretoria News on Wednesday he unequivocally respected the dignity and standing of every councillor of the City of Tshwane and viewed a selective referral and interpretation of his utterances as a perpetuation of a belief that the current leadership was uncivilised and not capable of running and governing a capital city.
When the DA councillors returned to the chamber, Mosupye-Letsholo went out. She was soon followed by the ANC caucus.
On their return, the speaker indicated that the DA representatives were in breach of the rules by holding a separate gathering when a council meeting was under way.
An ANC member tabled a motion asking for the exclusion of DA members from the meeting. Mosupyoe-Letsholo read out the motion and instructed members to leave the council chamber without putting it up for debate.
Ramokgopa said council business should not be held at ransom by the opposition each time they did not agree with policies and programmes presented by the council for approval or appraisal.
“I represent the most democratic and non-racial organisation which continues to champion citywide unity despite continued attempts to keep the City of Tshwane lily-white.
“This has been witnessed by an objection by the opposition to racial integration and social cohesion initiatives ranging from the name of the city, donations of land to black and African churches, building of mosques and mixed housing development in historically rich suburbs.”
Council chief whip Jabu Mabona said the DA didn’t contest the views it opposed, but walked out unprocedurally without indicating that to the speaker. “The quorum in the council was maintained by the remaining parties and the meeting continued without the DA. The DA representatives left the chambers, and realising they had failed to disrupt the meeting, they came back.
“The speaker decided to adjourn the meeting for 15 minutes to get a briefing from the legal team,” said Mabona. “While the speaker was still meeting the legal team, the ANC caucus used the break to hold its own meeting. The walkout by the DA while someone was on the floor was a clear sign of disrespect.”
Mosupye-Letsholo has denied with contempt the impression created by the DA that she did not follow meeting procedures and rules.
“In terms of our rules and orders, any party that wishes to hold a caucus must do so through the speaker, not just walk out. This behaviour was disruptive and causing disorder to the meeting,” she said.
“At the resumption of the meeting I voiced my displeasure at the DA’s behaviour that was causing disruption and was in breach of order when the ANC moved for a proposal to have DA members removed from council. “There was no objection to this proposal, and therefore, no need to put it to a vote. We do not wish to respond to other irrelevant allegations by the DA.”