Da Gama resists push to elect his successor
Johannesburg - Embattled Joburg City Council speaker Vasco da Gama has threatened council with court action as it prepares to elect his successor this week.
This comes after Joburg city manager Ndivhoniswani Lukhwareni issued a notice to councillors on Sunday telling them to attend an extraordinary council meeting on Wednesday to elect a new speaker.
Lukhwareni’s convening of the council comes as newly elected mayor Geoff Makhubo and MEC for Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs Lebogang Maile declared a vacancy for the speaker position.
Last week, the ANC’s motion of no confidence against Da Gama was controversially blocked by the DA despite it being supported by the majority of councillors.
The DA’s Alex Christians, who chaired the meeting, rejected the motion and called off the meeting after disagreements over the contentious interpretation of what constitutes a majority vote.
The ANC, however, said it regarded the meeting as having removed Da Gama with 135 of the 264 councillors at the meeting voting for his removal, 99 against it and the 30 EFF councillors abstaining.
Speaking to Independent Media on Sunday, Da Gama said he was still the legitimate speaker for the city’s council.
“My understanding of the position is that I am still the speaker. They must follow the proper procedures to ensure that the right thing is done,” Da Gama said.
He accused Makhubo and Maile of arbitrarily pushing for his replacement, adding that the Wednesday meeting could not be called without his permission.
Da Gama said the DA would interdict the decision of that meeting which he said was illegal.
ANC regional secretary Dada Morero said outcomes of last week’s meeting still stood and it meant Da Gama was rejected by the majority of councillors who were present.
“As far as we’re concerned we removed him. The speaker who was chairing did confirm that we had 135 votes and that the motion was going through until it was challenged by the DA and they decided to do want they wanted to do,” Morero said.
Last week saw the ANC’s dramatic return to the helm of Joburg after it dislodged the DA-led coalition with the assistance of some of the official opposition’s coalition partners and councillors.
At the weekend, Makhubo announced his coalition government with the political parties that helped elect him, including the IFP, AIC, UDM, Cope, Al-jama and the PA, with the two IFP councillors being made MMCs for housing and transport.
Joburg is among several coalition governments that have been rocked by political jostlings in the past week. In the Eastern Cape, Nelson Mandela Bay’s controversial mayor Mongameli Bobani was pushed out of power last week.