The DA has conceded that a lack of certainty over which party would prevail was the main driver behind the week-long postponement to elect a new mayor for Joburg.
On Thursday at a council in Braamfontein, speaker Vasco da Gama postponed the vote to elect Herman Mashaba’s successor to next week so the city could obtain legal opinion regarding the correct interpretation of section 7 of the Municipal Structures Act in terms of what constituted a majority.
Mashaba resigned last month.
There are 270 seats in the council, which have been reduced to 269 following the untimely death of ANC councillor David Monamodi this month.
After objections by EFF council leader Musa Novela as to whether a stipulated 136 votes or more was still required to elect a new mayor, Da Gama called for a five-minute break to consult with council's legal desk.
Following the short adjournment, Da Gama postponed Thursday vote to December 4 and December 5 after legal opinion had been obtained.
But speaking to The Star shortly after the adjournment, Mike Moriarty, the DA’s Gauteng chairperson, acknowledged that a lack of certainty was the driver in yesterday's vote postponement. This followed a question as to why there was a postponement at yesterday's council, whereas Mashaba was elected in August 2016 moments after ANC councillor Nonhlanhla Mthembu collapsed, and subsequently died, after being sworn in.
At the August 2016 council meeting, a full council was not sitting, which was the case on Thursday as well.
Moriarty admitted that the difference between 2016 and yesterday was certainty.
“In 2016, we knew that we would get over 140 votes, and we got over 140 votes - we were certain.
“Today (Thursday), nobody could say that they were certain. If you were to ask me to predict what the EFF would have done, I think they would have abstained,” he said.
The EFF, although not in the DA-led multi-party coalition, voted for Mashaba in 2016.
“If they (EFF) abstain, then where are the 136 votes needed?” Moriarty added.
But Geoff Makhubo, the ANC’s ANC’s regional chairperson and caucus leader, accused the DA of playing games by acting as if they did not know what a simple majority was.
“They (DA) are trying to renegotiate (because) the numbers are not on their side. They are quite scared that this thing is gone,” said Makhubo, who was the ANC’s mayoral candidate.
Floyd Shivambu, the EFF’s national deputy president, who was present at council yesterday, agreed with the speaker's decision, saying it was important to get the correct interpretation of the Municipal Structures Act.
“We did not want to have an outcome here which could have produced a mayor who is elected by less than 50% of the councillors of the City of Joburg,” he said.