DA-led coalition backs Vasco Da Gama over chair election ruling

The council chamber at the City of Joburg Picture: Itumeleng English/African News Agency (ANA)

The council chamber at the City of Joburg Picture: Itumeleng English/African News Agency (ANA)

Published Feb 3, 2022


Johannesburg - Political parties in the DA-led coalition government in the City of Johannesburg are fully behind Speaker Vasco da Gama’s decision to allow the election of Section79 committee chairs despite protests from the ANC and EFF.

The parties issued a joint reaction after ANC’s caucus leader Mpho Moerane reportedly told the media that his party had written a letter to Gauteng MEC for Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Lebogang Maile, asking him to invalidate those election outcomes.

Moerane told the media that his party was particularly aggrieved that Da Gama allegedly refused to call for nominations for the positions on January 27.

According to media reports, Moerane wrote to Maile saying: "The last council sitting (on January 18) that collapsed did not conclude, and therefore no decision was taken on the item of the elections of committee chairpersons.

“As a result, whatever discussions on the item that took place in the last sitting should be disregarded as no resolution was taken by the council or a majority of councillors."

"Instead of adhering to this common understanding, Councillor Da Gama insisted that the last meeting had taken nominations and therefore today's sitting will proceed straight to the nomination acceptance stage and not allow for nominations to be submitted,” Moerane said.

But the coalition parties have now expressed concern that any move by Maile would result in interference in the affairs of the City of Johannesburg.

Gert Niemand, joint caucus chairperson and his deputy, John Moodey, in their reaction said: “The coalition partners stand firmly of the view that the Speaker, Councillor Vasco da Gama, correctly applied his mind and the rules of council in the sitting that took place last week Thursday (January 27, 2022), that successfully elected 16 out of the 17 chairpersons of the portfolio committees of council.

“This was important, because it cannot be accepted that the work of the council is continuously interrupted by people who are solely bent on pursuing a power grab at the expense of the residents of Johannesburg.

“The Speaker continued the meeting in terms of the adjournment that occurred in the previous meeting of council. The adjournment arose from a lack of a quorum, and the standing rules of council provide that if there is a loss of a quorum, the meeting is adjourned and the meeting continues from that point at the next meeting.”

The joint caucus further said that in the previous meeting, the ANC and the EFF, along with smaller parties, withdrew their candidates, which was a matter of record as captured in the minutes.

The caucus said the action taken by the ANC and EFF to withdraw their candidates meant that each one of the coalition candidates for the 17 positions was unopposed.

“Subsequently, the Speaker correctly went through motions of electing each candidate unopposed in terms of the procedure that is articulated in the standing rules of council.

“The coalition partners are confident that any challenge to the Speaker’s decision would not succeed. In fact, such a challenge will be a waste of time; moreover, a waste of money to those bringing the challenge. Once again we stand firm, and we congratulate the Speaker. We insist that work of the council must go on, unimpeded. The residents of Johannesburg deserve nothing less,” the caucus said.

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Political Bureau