WATCH | ‘The people of Joburg have suffered enough’ — Phalatse pleads with opposition to bury the hatchet

26 January 2023 - 16:24
By Sisanda Mbolekwa

Joburg mayor Mpho Phalatse pleaded with councillors in the chamber to “bridge the gap between their challenges and their politics”, saying “the people of Johannesburg have suffered enough”.

“The last few months have been difficult. They have been characterised by political instability as we wrestled each other for control of the city,” Phalatse said.

This address took place at the city council sitting on Thursday where three motions of no confidence against Phalatse were due to be debated.

The embattled mayor pleaded with the opposition and multiparty government to ensure that their politics were “people-centred, and not self-centred”.

Johannesburg mayor Mpho Phalatse during the motion of no confidence against her.
Image: ANTONIO MUCHAVE Johannesburg mayor Mpho Phalatse during the motion of no confidence against her.

“We are sitting with an administration in limbo, without a city manager, a COO, and without a DBSA loan, all because we have been distracted by petty and trivial [issues], and our chronic avoidance of tough decisions, as well as inability to build a working consensus,” Phalatse said.

In her address, she referred to her past ousting as mayor, that saw ANC caucus leader Dada Morero take the reins, albeit for three weeks, citing that the resilience of the democratic institutions was put to test and “as democrats we breathed a sigh of relief when the supremacy of our constitution was reaffirmed and the rule of law prevailed”.

“An illegal administration was installed for 25 days and attempted to change the course of history. In the process the biggest losers have, unfortunately, been the six million residents of Johannesburg. Johannesburg residents watched with disappointment as politicians squabbled for power at their expense,” said Phalatse. 

“We are here again, in a moment of déjà vu, entertaining ourselves in a merry-go-round, while the development agenda is shoved to the periphery,” the mayor said.

Phalatse told councillors in the chamber that this was the “tragedy of our politics, yet the enormity of our challenges is beyond question”.

“We can no longer afford to spend time squabbling about trivia. Our council yearns for constructive opposition. It yearns for an executive that is seized with a development agenda, not fending off the fires of frivolous motions of no confidence,” she said.

The motions of no confidence were elevated to the top of the agenda, with the ANC, EFF and minority parties voting in favour of the elevation, while DA coalition partners ActionSA and IFP abstained from voting. The DA and Freedom Front Plus voted against the prioritisation of the motions but were outnumbered.

Phalatse said the outcome of Thursday’s council meeting would be historic, saying the “the sagacious hand of history will judge us for the decisions we will make today”.

“The choice is clear. We either spit in the face of the electorate by restoring a corrupt and inept government under the leadership of the ANC or we reaffirm the wishes of the residents who voted for change,” the mayor said.

Referring to her looming removal, Phalatse told councillors the decision would be a message to the whole of SA.

“We all know that what happens at local government has a bearing on the national election. We are less than 18 months from the national election and the people are watching us,” the mayor added.

Phalatse urged councillors to ponder, reflect and introspect about their role and contribution as public representatives.