Stellenbosch in ANC hands

By Ana Powell

After just two years of DA rule, the ANC has reclaimed the Stellenbosch municipality with the help of the Khayamandi Community Alliance (KCA) that voted against it in March 2006.

Patrick Swartz, of the KCA, was narrowly voted in as mayor on Tuesday after 19 councillors put forward motions of no confidence in the executive mayor, deputy mayor and speaker.

DA mayor Lauretta Maree was ousted by one vote during the special council meeting late on Tuesday afternoon, with 19 councillors voting against her.

Swartz clinched the deciding vote amid thunderous applause from the packed public gallery.

The DA's Andricus Westhuizen was forced to relinquish his position as speaker to Gordon Pheiffer, the ANC councillor he was trying to have expelled for fraud allegations.

He lost his seat by one vote, with 19 councillors voting against him.

Khulile Shubani, the UDM deputy mayor investigated for allegedly having an illegal driver's licence, was replaced by the ANC's chief whip Cameron Mcako.

Mcako won by five votes, the biggest margin in Tuesday's elections, to reconstitute the municipality's leadership.

Maree said after the meeting that the ANC's deal with Swartz had been clinched just five minutes before the start of the meeting, which was attended by all 37 councillors.

The DA started losing its precarious hold on the Stellenbosch council five weeks ago when Myra Linders left the DA and was re-elected in a by-election as an independent candidate.

Her shift in allegiance toppled the power balance, giving the DA only 14 seats.

With the help of smaller parties, the DA would now have 18 of the 37 votes.

To get the 19-seat majority that would have enabled it to hold onto the mayoral chain, the DA would have needed the support of the KCA.

The ANC, with 17 votes, could bank on Linders's support. It was therefore up to Swartz to cast the deciding vote.

By Tuesday morning, both the ANC and DA were confident of victory.

It is believed that both parties offered Swartz the mayoral chain if he voted with them.

Swartz said the KCA had "given the DA a chance" but now it was the turn of the ANC to restore service delivery and integrity to the council.

Mcako urged the people of Stellenbosch to be "positive about change".

He added: "I give the business community the assurance that this will continue to be a well-run town."

Pheiffer alluded to the fraud allegations in his acceptance speech.

"For a number of years I have had to defend myself at great cost to myself, against (charges) of misconduct brought against me by the Speaker, whose office I will now occupy." He said he would not use his new position for revenge or personal gain.

ANC heavyweights, including ANC provincial secretary Mcebisi Skwatsha, regional deputy secretary Max Ozinsky and Andre Gaum, ANC MP for Stellenbosch, were present to congratulate the new leadership.

Former Cape Town ANC mayor and member of the ANC's National Executive Committee, Nomaindia Mfeketo, was also present at the meeting.

Maree said afterwards she hoped the new leadership would continue to serve the community, but "people get the government they deserve".

Garth Strachan, ANC spokesperson, said the reconstitution of Stellenbosch was in line with the ANC's plan to "make grounds" in local government.

"But it won't be done in circumstances when good governance will be sacrificed."

Swartz said the new mayoral committee would be announced shortly.

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