ActionSA has accused the DA of failing Joburg citizens and losing an opportunity to take back the city after the party refused to take part in a sitting to elect a new council speaker.
African Independent Congress (AIC) councillor Margaret Arnolds was elected unopposed as the City of Joburg Speaker during an extraordinary sitting on Monday.
The appointment follows a week of uncertainty brought by the axing of former speaker, Colleen Makhubele, by her party, Congress of the People (COPE).
On Monday, City of Joburg manager Floyd Brink called an extraordinary council meeting to elect a new speaker to replace Makhubele who was fired for defying her party by aligning herself as the face of South African Rainbow Alliance (SARA).
Brink immediately announced her as the Speaker after Arnolds accepted her nomination from the floor.
Following her election unopposed, ActionSA provincial chairperson Funzi Ngobeni accused the DA of failing Joburg citizens after the party refused to take part in the sitting, saying it refused to take part in a futile and expensive exercise.
Ahead of the extra-ordinary sitting, the DA said it was opposed to the sitting as it would cost taxpayers more to have the sitting today rather than next week. According to the DA, dissolving the entire council would have been better than electing a new speaker this week.
“Today the DA has again let down the residents of Johannesburg, and its former coalition partners, by refusing an opportunity to take back the city and not attending the council meeting to elect a new speaker.”
Ngobeni revealed that the party had tried to engage the DA when Makhubele’s axing became public.
“Efforts to engage the DA began last week following the revelation of COPE’S removal of speaker Makhubele.
“During these discussions the PA (Patriotic Alliance), for the fourth time this year, availed themselves to restore the majority behind a coalition with the DA, ActionSA, IFP, Freedom Front Plus, ACDP and the UIM.
“The nature of these discussions afforded the DA the opportunity to determine whether they would like to lead this arrangement or whether they would prefer to support a candidate from one of these parties to win Joburg back from the ANC and EFF,“ Ngobeni said.
Ngobeni said on Sunday they had received a last-minute communication indicating that the DA would not be supporting this motion.
“The DA has every right, and was given every opportunity, to decide how they wish to participate in a new coalition, but they have opted rather for the continued governance of the ANC and EFF.
“It is devastating to the residents of Joburg that they will continue to suffer under the failed governance of mayors and speakers from parties with no discernible constituency, whose price for the privilege of leading Africa’s greatest city is for their strings to be pulled by the ANC and the EFF,“ Ngobeni said.
Ngobeni said ActionSA and its partners in the IFP, FF+, ACDP and UIM tried their best to stick together but were disappointed by the DA’s refusal to work with them to dislodge the ANC and EFF.
“These parties continue to demonstrate the ability to put aside differences to work together in the best interests of the residents of Joburg, and Gauteng more broadly. Votes for these parties in the 2021 local government elections were honoured by a commitment to do what is necessary to fix Joburg,” he said.
Arnolds has served as the chairperson of the council's Section 77 committee, a position she will have to vacate after her elevation to the council speaker post.
She served as a Johannesburg councillor for three terms and was vital in helping the ANC when it needed to co-govern the metro in the previous council administration that ended in 2021.
Arnolds also served as a mayoral committee member during that term but was not selected for a similar position when the ANC formed a coalition agreement with the EFF earlier this year.
Ahead of the sitting, DA caucus leader, Belinda Kayser-Echeozonjoku, indicated that they would not be taking part in the exercise.
“The DA will not be complicit in such a waste of money and will therefore not be attending the meeting. Our position remains clear, the Johannesburg council must be dissolved and we will not give legitimacy to the doomsday coalition while they are being frivolous with the taxpayers' money,” Kayser-Echeozonjoku said.