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ANC, EFF, UDM pull out of Joburg council meeting after eight hours of disruptions

Members of the minority opposition bloc in the city of Johannesburg dramatically tied their arms with chains, accusing council speaker Vasco da Gama of attempting to gag them.
Members of the minority opposition bloc in the city of Johannesburg dramatically tied their arms with chains, accusing council speaker Vasco da Gama of attempting to gag them.
Image: VELI NHLAPO

Several opposition political parties in the city of Johannesburg withdrew from voting in a council meeting after losing a bid to vote using a secret ballot instead of a show of hands on Tuesday.  

The ANC, EFF, UDM, Patriotic Alliance(PA), Al-Jamah and others pulled out of a special sitting meeting to elect the chair of chairs after several attempts to delay it.  The same meeting collapsed and turned violent last week.

The meeting was adjourned at least five times on Tuesday before COPE’s Colleen Makhubela was elected unopposed to the chair of chairs position after the EFF’s Nonhlanhla Radebe withdrew.  

The opposition parties accused council speaker Vasco da Gama of being biased after he declined for the vote to be held in secret.

The EFF was the first to announce its withdrawal from the voting process. 

The party’s Musa Novela said: “We refuse to participate in a process that is flawed. Any nomination that comes from the EFF is withdrawn.” 

The minority opposition bloc, including the ANC, represented by the African Independent Congress’ Margaret Arnolds, also withdrew participation. 

“We are withdrawing our names using the very same rule the EFF has quoted, but we are going further to say we don’t want to be partisan to you flouting the rules,” Arnolds said. 

In a surprising move, some councillors in the minority bloc left their seats with their hands tied with chains, raising clenched fists and expressing dissatisfaction with Da Gama’s refusal for the secret ballot. They argued an exception could be made as voting for the same positions in the Ekurhuleni metro was conducted through secret ballot.

Councillors also demanded bottled water, which was initially barred from the venue after councillors allegedly used them to assault one another at last week’s meeting, which left eight people injured.

The precinct was heavily guarded by police, and before proceedings could commence, councillors demanded their removal. 

They also demanded several caucus breaks which some councillors characterised as delaying tactics.

The continued disruptions may see the city unable to timeously pass its budget for 2022/2023.

Da Gama’s attempt to put an end to the breaks was not successful. Chaos erupted as some councillors left their seats, chanted and sang, wagging fingers and shouting about their rights being violated. Some went as far as telling Da Gama to stop “micromanaging” them.

Speaker, we are wasting time and taxpayers’ money. We cannot sit here all day and subject ourselves to the art of politics
Ashley Sauls, Patriotic Alliance 

“We all came here to do council work, but you seem to want to play political games. Please, if you do not want to be in this meeting, you know what to do,” Da Gama said. 

Several councillors later called on Da Gama to take charge of the meeting.   

“Speaker, we are wasting time and taxpayers’ money. We cannot sit here all day and subject ourselves to the art of politics. You have to take control of these chambers, which the EFF does not run. The EFF cannot hold us ransom. The residents of this city matter,” said the PA’s Ashley Sauls.

Council was adjourned to January 27, when chairpersons of portfolio committees are due to be elected. 

TimesLIVE


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