Joburg still has no mayor with council meeting postponed until Friday

02 May 2023 - 18:14
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The Johannesburg council chambers.
The Johannesburg council chambers.
Image: Veli Nhlapo

Tuesday's Johannesburg council meeting to elect a new executive mayor has been postponed until Friday after being marred by delays due to caucus breaks.

The first break, requested by the EFF, was granted by speaker Colleen Makhubele just minutes after council checked credentials and adopted a quorum.

Moments after the red berets' hour-long break ended and council was set to resume, the ANC requested a three-hour caucus break, with the speaker urging all councillors to make use of the time.

However, as they returned in the afternoon, the minority party bloc asked for an hour's break.

Former chief whip and DA councillor Tyrell Meyers objected to this, saying councillors ought to have respected the speaker's ruling to make use of the earlier break.

In a surprising turn of events, Makhubele defended the minorities, saying her sentiments were a suggestion and not a ruling, and she would grant them an hour.

"Each and every political party in the chambers is allowed by law to request a caucus break, so I will grant it. But what I know is that we will leave these chambers tonight with a newly elected executive mayor of the City of Johannesburg," said Makhubele.

The reason behind the delays was reportedly due to deliberations regarding which party from the ANC/EFF/minority alliance would field a mayoral candidate.

Insiders said the deadlock was between COPE wanting to field Makhubele, Al Jama-ah [former mayor Thapelo Amad's party] seeking to replace Amad with its candidate, Kabelo Gwamanda, and an ANC faction wanting to take national instructions on a candidate.

Meanwhile, the opposition also walks into the mayoral race divided as there was no agreement on one candidate. The DA and ActionSA announced they would field separate candidates — former DA mayor Mpho Phalatse and ActionSA Gauteng leader Funzi Ngobeni.

After the return of councillors, Al-Jama-ah requested a break, to which the opposition bench disagreed, saying there had been too many delays and council ought to conduct its business. However, the speaker said she could not disallow Al Jama-ah's request as she had allowed other parties to caucus all day.

"Councillors have been asking me to grant them breaks for their deliberations all day. It is clear councillors are not ready to elect a mayor. This meeting is adjourned [until Friday]," said the speaker.

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