IN a foretaste of the ANC-DA political battle in Cape Town ahead of the 2016 local government elections, this year’s first full council sitting descended into chaos, with some ANC councillors seen throwing punches yesterday.
The tension between the political rivals was palpable from the onset as mayor Patricia de Lille and the ANC, led by Tony Ehrenreich, locked horns over issues that included services, MyCiTi bus routes and the renaming of Table Bay Boulevard after former president FW de Klerk.
ANC councillors heckled De Lille during her opening speech in which she listed a number of projects the city would undertake.
Matters turned personal when Ehrenreich questioned De Lille’s budget allocations.
“R27 million has been given to communities that have desperate (service delivery) backlogs, yet you spend R40m on what is the city’s party gimmick, called the World Design Capital, to host multimillion-rand parties for the wealthy,” Ehrenreich said.
An angered De Lille fired back: “I am so glad that 2016 is soon approaching so that the ANC can get another leader for the opposition. We still have another 15 to 16 months left to listen to the same stuck record. The ANC is clowning around.
“I cannot debate in clown politics. Please can I ask that the ANC get a better leader.”
The contentious renaming of Table Bay Boulevard dominated the agenda, with De Lille saying
she knew the ANC opposed renaming it after De Klerk. “They are opposed to progressive politics and anything that is not backward-looking and embraced by the cold hands of racialised politics. This does not surprise me. The ANC has no vision for Cape Town,” she said.
Tempers flared when the eviction of Wynberg and Plumstead residents to make way for the MyCiTi trunk route came up. ANC councillors compared the move to forced evictions during apartheid.
Mayco member for transport Brett Herron said 1.4 million people would benefit from the new route.
Speaker Dirk Smit’s indication for a vote on the matter came under fire from ANC councillors, who accused him of not giving them a fair chance to debate the issue.
The ANC then asked to caucus and, on their return to the chamber, found that the meeting had proceeded without their input. ANC councillors were outraged. The Speaker’s calls for order were drowned out by ANC councillors banging on desks while chants of “no” rang out. Smit then ordered the ANC to leave and the hall to be vacated.
The council sitting was moved to another room, with many DA councillors also shut out as metro police blocked ANC councillors from getting in. Chaos erupted when ANC members tried to force their way in, resulting in a tussle between some ANC councillors and metro police officers. There was continual shoving and pushing as ANC councillors tried to storm the room.
For the next two hours, ANC councillors tried to get in while remaining DA councillors were gradually escorted into the room, where ACDP and FF Plus councillors participated in the discussions.
Later Ehrenreich, at a press briefing with Al Jamah, said the ANC’s exclusion was an attempt by De Lille to avoid contentious issues and a pending vote of no confidence in her. Ehrenreich said opposition parties, along with “disheartened” DA councillors, would be the “outright majority” in securing De Lille’s removal.
“The ANC will be taking this matter to the Minister of Co-operative Governance. This goes against the constitution.”
De Lille said the full agenda was completed and among motions passed was the renaming of Table Bay Boulevard.
“The behaviour of the ANC today is a disgrace.This is part of their campaign to make the city ungovernable. We have been elected to do a job and we will do that at all costs.”
Smit said the council would today seek legal advice.