The inaugural sitting of the new council of the City of Johannesburg had to be briefly adjourned on Monday afternoon after scuffles broke out between the Economic Freedom Fighters and officials of the Independent Electoral Commission.
This was just as voting for the speaker of council resumed after having to be halted for about 20 minutes because of party agents objecting to the fact that some of the councillors were showing their ballot papers before putting them into the ballot box.
The Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) and Judge President Dunstan Mlambo tried to persuade parties to follow the rules regulating the process. However‚ the EFF insisted that its members had a right to show their ballots.
“If our members want to show their ballots they should be allowed to do so‚” said one of the EFF members.
The IEC made its ruling and it was communicated by the city manager‚ Trevor Fowler‚ who is presiding over the meeting.
“There seem to be a disagreement about how the secret ballots is passed. The secret ballot‚ according to the legislation‚ must be cast in secret. There has been a complaint by party agents that councillors folded their ballots in a manner that showed their choice.
“I have said the IEC should make a ruling…their view is that the ballot when cast must be kept secret. It is not the decision of the presiding officer. We are going to ask that people desist from it. If you continue‚ we will redo it‚” said Fowler.
He warned that the voting process would have to be repeated if the councillors continued to show who they had voted for.
The call made by the EFF echoed suspicions that its members in the Joburg council are divided on the directive issued by national leadership for the party to support the Democratic Alliance.
Outside the city hall‚ there was a group dressed in EFF regalia which protested saying the party had sold out it members by supporting the DA.