'Political musical chairs' at Stellenbosch Municipality as councillors swop places
Cape Town - In a case of “political musical chairs” at the Stellenbosch Municipality, for the second time in just under a year the speaker and the deputy mayor have swopped places in a move that opposition councillors have dismissed as “a mockery”.
Stellenbosch municipal manager Geraldine Mettler wason Monday forced to call an urgent council meeting after councillor Nyaniso Jindela suddenly resigned as speaker on Friday.
In a replay of events in November last year, councillor Wilhelmina Petersen, who had swopped places with Jindela in 2019, was on Monday elected unopposed as the new speaker of the council.
EFF councillor Derrick Hendrickse said: “During the same meeting, even though the matter was not on the published agenda, Jindela was elected unopposed as the new deputy mayor, the post he held until a year ago when it was Petersen’s turn to quit suddenly. It is political musical chairs.
“The election at the meeting was problematic and possibly illegal as there was no item on the agenda for the election of a deputy mayor, only for the election of a speaker.”
However, municipal spokesperson Stuart Grobbelaar said: “As a result of councillor Petersen’s election to the speaker’s chair, a new deputy mayor also had to be elected. Councillor Jindela was duly nominated and elected unopposed.”
Meanwhile, drama unfolded after the meeting when there was a clash between a reporter and a councillor.
DA Constituency head in Stellenbosch, Leon Schreiber, said: “A so-called activist and journalist assaulted a local female DA councillor, in full view of other councillors.”
“The journalist posed a question which the councillor politely refused to comment on. This infuriated the journalist to a point where he assaulted her. She then received medical attention.”
Newly elected speaker Petersen said: “Charges of assault and intimidation will be laid with the police. We will also be contacting the Press Ombudsman to formally lay a complaint against the journalist.”
Meanwhile, the editor of the Stellenbosch News Danie Keet said: “What happened before and after the special council meeting was that one of our journalists asked a councillor about a criminal charge she had instituted against a fellow councillor. This is part of an ongoing story we are covering. This had nothing to do with the meeting during which a new speaker and deputy mayor was elected.”
“Referring to the incident as an “attack” is also unnecessary, but we condemn any form of violent confrontation. To ask pertinent questions to councillors on issues relating to Stellenbosch ratepayers and the management of the municipality is, however, part of the duty of journalists to get to the real truth, especially in the case of public office bearers,” said Keet.
“We are in the process of requesting access to video footage of the incident and are looking into the circumstances of exactly what happened and will comment further if necessary.”