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City of Joburg to beef up security after council meeting descends into chaos

14 January 2022 - 13:23
Johannesburg speaker of the council Vasco da Gama and mayor Mpho Phalatse. File image.
Johannesburg speaker of the council Vasco da Gama and mayor Mpho Phalatse. File image.
Image: Freddy Mavunda

The speaker of council in the City of Johannesburg, Vasco da Gama, has committed to beefing up security at the chambers after a council meeting turned chaotic, leaving personnel injured. 

The first meeting of the year took place on Thursday and was due to elect a chair of chairs and chairpersons of portfolio committees. It started well but ended abruptly after the announcement of the voting procedure, according to the city.

“This meeting was intended to put the interest of the people of Johannesburg first. It was meant to elect councillors to these positions and therefore allow service delivery to roll out to communities, and for the legislature to play its role in doing oversight on the executive,” the city said.   

It put the blame squarely on ANC and EFF councillors who reportedly wanted to change the voting procedures.

“True to the ANC’s style of politics, they were hell-bent on bending the rules and culture of council that we have used for more than 20 years in electing the chair of chairs and chairpersons of portfolio committees,” said Da Gama.  

Voting by secret ballot applies only to the election of the speaker, executive mayor and chief whip, whereas the election of the chairperson of committees must be conducted in council, according to the city.

ANC councillor Mpho Moerane said the refusal of a secret ballot voting process by Da Gama was going against the wishes of the majority.

“The tyranny elements of the DA undermine and bring mockery to the national struggle and seek to deny the residents of Johannesburg service delivery and accountability. To this end, the ANC condemns the actions of the DA with absolute contempt, and their erosion of capacity at the expense of residents,” said Moerane.

Attempts to remove Moerane and other councillors seen as unruly led to the “attack” on officials and security personnel.

I am utterly disturbed by the attacks on fellow councillors and officials in my office, as well as security personnel who were called to assist in removing the unruly councillors.
Council speaker Vasco da Gama

“I am utterly disturbed by the attacks on fellow councillors and officials in my office, as well as security personnel who were called to assist in removing the unruly councillors,” said Da Gama.

“Councillor Moerane and the EFF councillors led the charge in the breaking of Covid-19 rules, with singing, chanting, no social distancing, pushing, hurting councillors and officials and almost breaking council furniture, doors and other equipment in council.”

Among those allegedly manhandled by ANC councillors was a legal adviser.  

“This morning I have spoken to councillors who were pushed around and injured. They will be opening cases against unruly ANC and EFF councillors,” said Da Gama.

The council meeting was adjourned and postponed to Tuesday to conclude the elections process.   

“I would like to send my special thanks to the councillors, officials and security personnel who tried to bring order and stability to the meeting,” added Da Gama.

“We will have to tighten the rules and security to ensure a smooth flow of council. It must be in the interest of our residents that we improve service delivery and oversight over the executive.”

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