DA bags hat-trick with City of Gold

Businessman Herman Mashaba won a tightly contested mayoral vote. Picture: Simphiwe Nkwali
Businessman Herman Mashaba won a tightly contested mayoral vote. Picture: Simphiwe Nkwali

Joburg success follows power grabs in Bay, Tshwane councils

The DA won the battle for the leadership of Johannesburg last night after a marathon session which was marred by the death of an ANC councillor hours after she was sworn in.

In a devastating setback for the ruling party, businessman Herman Mashaba won a tightly contested mayoral vote against the incumbent, the ANC’s Parks Tau, by 144 votes to 125, after the EFF kept its promise and voted with the DA.

The DA’s Kevin Wax won the most votes for the position of chief whip by a similar tally.

The DA’s success completed a remarkable hat-trick having earlier taken control of the Nelson Mandela Bay metro and Tshwane (Pretoria).

But the stormy inaugural sitting of the new Johannesburg City Council was overshadowed by the death of an ANC councillor only hours after she had been sworn in.

Councillor Nonhlanhla Mthembu was attended to by two paramedics at about 5pm, moments after speaker Vasco da Gama asked for nominations for mayor.

ANC regional leader Geoff Makhubo announced at about 7pm that one of the party’s councillors, who was ill, had died.

“She spent time campaigning for votes with us and we would ask that we vote in her honour.”

Makhubo asked that Da Gama allow members of the ANC caucus to leave immediately after voting for the mayor and chief whip.

The election of Mashaba, founder of the Black Like Me range of cosmetics, sealed the ANC’s fate after 22 years in power.

In his acceptance speech, Mashaba said: “From tonight corruption is the No 1 public enemy in Johannesburg.”

Despite winning the most votes in the August 3 local government elections, the ANC lost control of the country’s economic engine and with it a budget of more than R54-billion.

The party still controls most of the wards in the city but not its purse, which now falls under the control of the DA.

Mashaba beat Tau, whose party could not put together a coalition.

The DA was able to put together a multiparty partnership with opposition parties – depending heavily on the support of the EFF.

Despite having expressed strong reservations about Mashaba’s candidacy, the EFF voted with the DA to secure his claim to the mayoral chain.

Thus ended Tau’s first term in office after an election dominated by national issues that overshadowed his administration’s successes.

The Tau administration obtained numerous unqualified audits, achieved budget surpluses and was praised by ratings agencies.

Yesterday’s council meeting began with objections to the swearing in of the former member of the mayoral committee responsible for housing, Dan Bovu, who was accused of bribery and fraud.

EFF chairman in the Johannesburg region Musa Ndobela asked presiding officer and city manager Trevor Fowler not to allow Bovu to be sworn in but to have him arrested.

“What we ask of the City of Johannesburg is not to protect wanted criminals. What we are saying is that this person is a wanted criminal,” Ndobela said.

“You know very well that corruption is a disease that has been eating away at the opportunities of the people of this city … and yet you want to allow a councillor who is accused of corruption.”

Ndobela asked that the record reflect that Fowler declined to accede to the EFF’s request.

Fowler said earlier he had no power to have Bovu arrested, adding that he was innocent until proved otherwise.

Proceedings were again disrupted when party agents, during the election of the speaker, complained that councillors were exposing their ballots in what was meant to be a secret vote.

Officials of the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC), after lengthy deliberations and a scuffle on the stage at City Hall, ruled that no councillor should expose his marked ballot paper to avoid a re-running of the election.

The DA’s Da Gama received 145 votes, while the ANC candidate and outgoing speaker, Connie Bapela, got 126.

A tally of the votes revealed that an extra vote was cast, bringing to 271 the total number of marked ballot papers even though there are only 270 councillors. The error was not explained, but IEC provincial electoral officer Masego Shiburi said the additional vote would be included in the final results tally but had not influenced the outcome of the vote.

Meanwhile, in Tshwane, the new DA administration said it was under siege and had been “sabotaged”.

The party is pointing fingers at disgruntled ANC branch members‚ whom it accuses of being behind land invasions and power cuts.

The spokesman for newly elected mayor Solly Msimanga, Motheo Mtimkulu‚ said “disrupters” would be dealt with.

“We have intelligence information that some members of the ANC in branches were encouraging communities to invade land‚” Mtimkulu said.

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