Johannesburg - Gauteng MEC for Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Lebogang Maile is demanding answers from the City of Joburg’s Speaker Vasco da Gama following a chaotic council meeting which was meant to elect Section79 committees chairs.
This after the meeting descended into chaos on Thursday when several ANC and EFF members protested against Da Gama's decision that voting for the positions of chair of chairs and committees should be through a show of hands.
ANC and EFF members broke into song as a sign of protest, and councillors also wrestled with each other in the council chambers in full view of the media and guests.
Other councillors threw bottles at DA councillors, including in the direction of Da Gama.
Due to the chaos, Da Gama then postponed the council meeting until Tuesday.
Insiders told Independent Media that Da Gama's insistence on a show of hands was aimed at avoiding what happened at the City of Ekurhuleni, where the EFF turned against the DA and voted for ANC councillors to be chairperson of most of the Section79 committees.
On Friday, Maile’s spokesperson Lupi Ngcayisa confirmed that the MEC had written a formal letter to Da Gama requesting him to provide him with a comprehensive report on the collapse of the council meeting.
“As the MEC responsible for local government in the province, MEC Maile deems the events that transpired on the day in a very serious light. Not only has the decorum of the Council been disturbed, but the integrity and governance of the Municipality is placed in peril,” Ngcayisa said.
He added MEC Maile said that “this will no doubt have far-reaching ramifications on the stability of the Municipality.”
In the circumstances, MEC Maile has requested the Da Gama to provide him with a comprehensive response on the collapse of the Council meeting within seven days of receipt of his letter.
Ngcayisa said MEC Maile had urged all councillors to, at all times, act in the best interest of the Municipality and the citizens of the City.
Da Gama confirmed that he had received Maile's letter at about 11am on Friday, saying he was quick to write letters. “I am going to respond to him,” he said.
He, however, said he had convened a special council meeting on Tuesday to resolve the impasse.
Da Gama admitted that the Municipal Systems Act was silent on the voting method, but the City of Joburg had its own rule saying he had a final decision to determine the voting method.
According to Da Gama, in the City’s past history, voting for chair of chairs and committee chairs were held through a show of hands.
But this has angered the ANC, EFF and AIC.
The ANC caucus leader Mpho Moerane blamed Da Gama for the collapse of the council meeting, saying his party was “utterly sickened at the withholding of democratic processes in Council by the DA, where a commotion has ensued as a result of the refusal of a secret ballot voting process by the Speaker of Council.
“This is going against the majority by attempting to impose voting by a show of hands, without substantial argument.
“ANC Councillors along with other opposition and minority parties requested a secret ballot, a method that was used to elect both the Speaker of Council, the Mayor and Chief Whip, to start voting for the Chair of Chairs and Section 79 Committee Chairpersons that holds the executive accountable through its oversight role,” Moerane said.
He said “the tyranny elements of the Democratic Alliance” continue to undermine and bring mockery to the national struggle for liberation, democratic processes and seek to deny the residents of Johannesburg service delivery and accountability.
“The ANC condemns the actions of the Democratic Alliance with absolute contempt and their erosion of capacity at the expense of the residents of Johannesburg,” Moerane said.
Similar views were expressed by Margaret Arnolds of the African Independent Congress and leader of minority parties in the council. The EFF also blamed Da Gama for the collapse of the meeting.