DURBAN - DRAMA, suspense, insults and threats of violence were the order of the day yesterday during the council sitting of the eThekwini Municipality to elect new leaders.
The meeting was eventually suspended due to a power outage and after ANC supporters had stormed the venue.
The power outage was fortuitous for the ANC as it looked like the party could suffer defeats if the position of mayor and deputy mayor came up for a vote.
At first, the ANC appeared to have the upper hand when it was able to elect Thabani Nyawose as the speaker by notching 103 votes, meaning they got an extra 8 votes from other parties.
However, once it became clear that the IFP had abstained from voting with the ANC despite an agreement announced last week, the meeting descended into chaos.
In terms of the agreement, the ANC and IFP were to allow each other to rule in the hung councils, where each had the majority of votes.
After the DA, IFP, EFF and ActionSA held a meeting outside the meeting venue where discussions were held on the mayor’s position, the ANC began lobbying smaller parties but to no avail.
Then some ANC councillors started raising points of order and speaking over each other just to disrupt the meeting.
They complained the tent was open and because of the wind it might collapse on them. When it was then partially closed, they complained that this could lead to the spread of Covid-19.
In the end there was a power failure that forced the adjournment until tomorrow at 10am.
There was a scare when ANC supporters stormed the venue to disrupt the meeting. The incident happened just before 6pm and some female councillors within the venue were seen screaming as they ran for cover when the supporters toppled chairs and tables inside the gigantic marquee pitched inside the Moses Mabhida Stadium.
It is not clear how the supporters breached security.
The supporters, who were all in ANC
regalia, were initially camped outside the stadium patiently waiting for the voting to conclude.
Unexpectedly, the supporters showed up at the venue and they were seen pushing the gates to enter.
The SAPS, Durban metro police and private municipal security guards did not try to thwart the security breach.
It was only when they had stormed the venue and were retreating that the security forces appeared to act, cordoning off the venue and beefing up security.
Opposition councillors alleged that the power failure was engineered to save the ANC from losing the mayoral seat.
Speaking on behalf of small parties, Philani Mavundla of ABC (Abantu Batho Congress) said come tomorrow, the ANC in eThekwini will be gone.
“We have toppled the ANC already, that’s why they have collapsed the meeting,” he said.
The secretary-general of the EFF, Marshal Dlamini, who was at the venue to monitor the voting process, said: “The
storming incident was total disrespectful to the people of South Africa, this is what they have been doing for years.
“The voters have spoken that they don’t want them in power, that’s why they have voted for different political parties. The ANC doesn’t have the majority, they must understand that,” Dlamini said.
Dlamini confirmed that the EFF would back any candidate that opposes the ANC.
The DA said it may consider taking the legal route to ensure that the next council sitting is not collapsed. The party’s Dean Macpherson added that the storming incident was uncalled for.
“Disgrace,” he said in describing the incident.
IFP provincial leader Thami Ntuli said the arrangement they had with the ANC that they would not contest each other in areas where each party had the majority of votes, fell apart after the ANC did not honour it and started fielding candidates in areas where the IFP had the majority.
“We had never said we would vote
with the ANC, we had said we would not contest each other in areas where each party was the majority, with that agreement we were simply saying that. But things have happened and there is a lot of mistrust.”
Nyawose said after speaking to municipal officials about the power failure, a decision was taken to adjourn the sitting.
ActionSA member Makhosi Khoza took the new speaker to task over the cancellation of the meeting.
“We are not happy about the way you chaired the meeting, we want assurances that on Wednesday this meeting will not be collapsed.”
Nyawose assured her that the meeting will proceed as scheduled.
In a statement yesterday, the municipality said the meeting ended prematurely.
“While the teams were working on restoring power, the meeting was also disrupted by a group of individuals.
“The municipality is investigating how the security controls were breached.”