Champion of former Joburg mayor Mpho Phalatse’s ousting Margaret Arnolds overlooked for top job

Margaret Arnolds has been overlooked for a mayoral committee position in Joburg. Picture: Nokuthula Mbatha African News Agency (ANA)

Margaret Arnolds has been overlooked for a mayoral committee position in Joburg. Picture: Nokuthula Mbatha African News Agency (ANA)

Published Feb 6, 2023


Pretoria - Margaret Arnolds – one of the leading champions and brains behind the ousting of former Joburg mayor Dr Mpho Phalatse in a dramatic vote of no confidence – got a rude awakening when she was excluded from mayor Thapelo Amad’s cabinet.

This was the first time in the history of the City of Joburg that members of the mayoral committee were apparently selected through a secret ballot.

It was also the first Joburg executive under the leadership of Amad of Al Jama-ah, a minority party in council. In the past, even under the leadership of the DA-led coalition under former mayor Herman Mashaba and lately the ousted Phalatse, they had powers to select and appoint, including announcing members of the mayoral committees of their choice.

The same happened under the ANC-controlled City of Joburg. Ironically, Arnolds, who hails from the African Independent Congress, was MMC for community development during the tenure of past ANC mayors Geoff Makhubo, Jolidee Matongo and Mpho Moerane. During the 25-day tenure of the ANC’s regional chairperson, Dada Morero, as mayor, Arnolds was named as MMC for finance, a position now held by Morero.

The tables turned against her on Friday when Amad announced the last two and remaining members of his mayoral committee. He excluded her again. Arnolds was the brains behind the ousting of Phalatse and the active voice of the minority parties in the City of Joburg; instead of being rewarded for her brevity, tenacity and onslaught against the DA-led coalition, Amad looked the other way.

He instead appointed newcomer and PA deputy president Kenny Kunene as the new MMC for transport. Kunene was only sworn in as a councillor on Thursday. Amad also appointed little-known Ennie Makhafola of the EFF as MMC for social development.

Commenting on her snubbing, Arnolds said: “I feel like a mother that gave birth to a child, and after the cord was cut, I was told: ‘You’re not good enough to be a mother. We’re giving this child to social services.’”

She said her snubbing only dawned on her yesterday after receiving calls from various people who called to comfort her. “I looked at myself in the mirror and said: ‘This is what happened to me.’ I didn’t feel like that on Thursday when the mayor announced the first eight members of the mayoral committee,” Arnolds said.

In her bid to ease her pain, Arnolds, who was still in shock, accepted a weekend voucher from her party members to spend the weekend away from home.

“I am packing my bags. My constituency in Eldorado Park has organised a trip for me to go and rest,” she said.

The snubbing unfolded on Thursday when Amad announced five ANC members in his top cabinet. They are Morero, Loyiso Masuku as group corporate and shared services, Jack Sekwaila (environment and infrastructure services), Eunice Mgcina (development planning) and Nomoya Daphney Mnisi (economic development).

The ATM, which proposed the initial motion of no confidence against Phalatse, was awarded one seat. Its councillor, Lubabalo Mangwentshu, was sworn in as MMC for community development, a position previously held by Arnolds under the ANC-controlled municipal leadership.

The EFF’s Sepetlele Raseruthe is public safety MMC, while Anthea Natasha Leitch of the PA was named housing MMC.

By last night, Arnolds was unable to shed light on who was responsible for her snubbing, but Independent Media understands that some of her fellow minority party members were lobbied not to vote for her.

Amad was not available to comment on his choice of MMCs, but had earlier issued a statement saying that he wished the new MMCs well in their new responsibilities and urged them to spare nothing of themselves in serving the residents of Johannesburg.

“The appointment completes a team of skilled councillors who will work with the executive mayor to implement the Government of Local Unity mandate and government programmes as informed by the Growth and Development Strategy 2040,” Amad said.

Pretoria News