Pretoria - Chaos broke out at the City of Tshwane’s ordinary council sitting yesterday when EFF councillors led a protest against mayor Cilliers Brink, vowing that he would not speak in council in the wake of the dismissals of 122 workers.
Workers affiliated to the SA Municipal Workers’ Union (Samwu) were fired for taking part in an unprotected strike.
The EFF councillors demanded that workers be reinstated during a council sitting hosted at Tshwane House Council Chamber. Led by their caucus leader Obakeng Ramabodu, councillors held up placards bearing messages in support of the workers’ strike and wage demands.
Their protest turned ugly when they made threats against councillors from the multiparty coalition bloc. Councillors had a physical confrontation, and a DA councillor was seen manhandled and had his jacket and shirt stripped off.
Some ANC councillors also joined the fray by chanting songs in support of the EFF. Brink said the meeting was violently disrupted by the EFF, who threatened and assaulted councillors.
“This is, in terms of the new code of conduct, a criminal offence.
“The leader of the EFF caucus, Ramabodu, was at the frontline. Absolutely no protection was provided. But we stood our ground. We refused to leave this place.
“And they can come with violence but we were democratically elected here and we won’t be driven out of this chamber,” he said.
Earlier on, council speaker Mncedi Ndzwanana expressed disappointment at the councillors from the multiparty coalition for not honouring a special council sitting convened on August 24.
The sitting in question was called for the purpose of debating the degenerating state of service delivery in the metro as a result of the ongoing strike.
Ndzwanana said: “The executive mayor was keen to have the meeting so that he can explain to the council what is happening. Unfortunately, the coalition didn’t turn up.
“The executive mayor arrived in the morning in my office, requesting a virtual meeting due to the safety of councillors.”
He said he refused to call an online meeting after he gave his word to Brink that all councillors would be safe and the security would be arranged for anything that might happen. He then asked that the mayor be afforded a chance to make a presentation during yesterday’s council meeting.
But, before Brink could speak Ramabodu raised his hand and took to the podium to address the house. He told workers “that there is no city that is going to continue until workers are reinstated by this guy (city manager Johann Mettler)”.
“We are not doing that because we are disrespectful. We are doing that because we have noticed that there is a cartel that is running this city from Stellenbosch. And that cartel has even swallowed the city manager, who came here as a person who is neutral.
“The fellow is no more neutral. He is worth being called councillor Mettler. He is no longer a city manager. I therefore declare this city manager as a politician. A city manager who sides with the party that decided not to come to council,” he said.
He then called on EFF councillors to confront Brink and make sure that he “won’t speak”.
At a media briefing on Wednesday, Mettler said the City applied the no work, no pay principle where there was evidence of workers not reporting for duty.
Brink said this week: “The City of Tshwane cannot pay contractors to fix leaks, restore electricity and repair sewer lines, and then pay the salaries of employees who sign in and then refuse to do these things.
“If we pay those salaries, we will be incurring fruitless and wasteful expenditure.”