Pretoria - Acts of violence, insults and threats by EFF councillors inside Tshwane House chamber yesterday forced the Speaker, Dr Murunwa Makwarela, to postpone the special council sitting for the tabling of the 2022/23 budget speech.
The red berets had announced on Wednesday that they were “ready” for mayor Randall Williams, especially after his recent utterances that the municipality was not in a good financial position to in-source all workers.
Council proceedings were disrupted for the better part of the day, with EFF members ripping out electronic gadgets from computers used by senior officials in council. They were also seen violently removing tables and chairs used by officials from their usual positions.
Others hurled insults at the DA councillors, who tried in vain to intervene in the removal of furniture.
EFF councillors remove the speech from the hands of the speaker ahead of a now delayed budget speech by MMC for Finance Peter Sutton inside Tshwane House. The party earlier protested outside. @EFFSouthAfrica @CityTshwane #EFF #tshwane @IOL pic.twitter.com/PxOEGShIp8— Pretoria News (@pretorianews) May 19, 2022
Makwarela was not spared the wrath of the red berets, who demanded that he switch on their microphones.
Makwarela told the Pretoria News that he had to postpone the sitting until further notice as he was concerned about the safety of people both inside and outside the chamber. He laid the blame squarely on the EFF councillors. At one stage Makwarela called in the orderlies to eject rowdy EFF councillors, but he subsequently asked them to withdraw.
Amid the commotion in council some councillors from the EFF could be heard shouting “voetsek” as they ordered some municipal officials and DA councillors to leave them alone.
DA caucus chairperson in Tshwane, Jacqui Uys, said the party would open a criminal complaint against EFF councillors “following their violent and aggressive behaviour towards city officials, council members and the destruction and vandalising of city property”.
“EFF councillors destroyed council property, ripped out electronics, and proceeded to throw tables and chairs to disrupt today’s council meeting where the MMC for finance, Alderman Peter Sutton, was supposed to present the 2022/23 budget speech,” Uys said.
“The budget speech was supposed to indicate the city’s plans to ensure that we continue to deliver adequate services to the residents of Tshwane. The EFF organised an illegal protest, despite a court interdict against them, to drive their own political agenda at the expense of residents across the city,” Uys said.
According to her, the EFF's antics to disrupt the work of council were an indication of their desperation for political relevance.
Uys said the DA supported the postponement of the budget to be tabled next week “in its endeavour to advance service delivery and gear the city towards financial stability”.
ActionSA caucus leader Derrick Kissoonduth expressed disappointment at the disruption of the meeting.
“No one will be happy with the way the meeting ended. We came here to do the work of the city and unfortunately the meeting took that turn,” he said.
Kissoonduth, however, echoed a call for in-sourcing workers, saying his party had made a commitment to in-source the security guards and cleaners during the elections last year.
“We want to do an analysis of all tenders in the city that employ people and the value of those tenders. Once the tenders come to an end, we don’t want the contracts to be renewed. We would rather directly employ those people as the city,” he said.
EFF regional leader Obakeng Ramabodu said: “The long and sustained predicament of the workers came to an end in 2019 when the EFF, through a council motion, succeeded in pushing for the in-sourcing of security guards and cleaners. Surprisingly, the DA and its proxies in council are plotting to reverse the gains made in 2019 for the in-sourcing of these workers.”
The ANC did not respond to a request for comment about the EFF’s disruption of the council meeting.