How choking councillors, hostage drama led ANC to elect DA speaker in Free State municipality
A bizarre set of circumstances, blamed on ANC infighting, resulted in the surprising result
A local Free State municipality is ANC-led but now has a DA speaker — the result of a bizarre string of events, including a council meeting being gassed and the acting municipal manager being held hostage at another meeting.
The DA’s Eric Motloung received 18 votes against the 13 for the ANC’s Tseki Tseki — and this in a council where the ANC holds 25 of the 39 seats.
Sources have blamed ANC infighting for the result.
The Dihlabeng local municipality serves the communities of Paul Roux, Clarens, Rosendal and Fouriesburg, with Bethlehem as its administrative and political headquarters.
It has been without a speaker since the death of David Lengoabala (ANC) in September.
Monday’s meeting was the council’s third attempt to elect a speaker. The first meeting earlier this month had to adjourn when someone released gas in the venue and choking councillors could not proceed with the agenda.
The second attempt was also abandoned as the acting municipal manager was allegedly held hostage and couldn’t, in the absence of a speaker, preside over the proceedings.
The ANC has 25 seats in the council, the DA eight, the EFF three and the Freedom Front Plus one. There are two independent councillors.
“I feel like a Muslim in a Christian party. I was sitting there really shocked at the outcome, but I remember the oath of office that I took that I will protect the constitution of this country and the laws of the land.Newly-elected speaker Eric Motloung of the DA
Sources have said Tseki was nominated by the Free State ANC’s provincial executive committee. But there was a faction of the party that did not support his nomination.
Free State ANC spokesperson Thabo Meeko had not responded to questions at the time of publishing.
“We were very shocked when the secret ballot was done, and when the acting municipal manager announced the votes,” Motloung said.
“I feel like a Muslim in a Christian party. I was sitting there really shocked at the outcome, but I remember the oath of office that I took that I will protect the constitution of this country and the laws of the land,” said the 38-year-old of his unexpected election.
“It proves the ANC would choose a DA candidate since our track record speaks for itself. We pride ourselves in accountability and service delivery where we govern,” he added.
DA provincial leader Roy Jankielsohn said it came as no great surprise to the DA that the internal warfare within the ANC has produced the DA’s first speaker in the Dihlabeng municipality.
“It is time that the voters follow the example of disgruntled ANC councillors and support the DA as the only viable alternative in the Free State.
“Obviously the ANC councillors who supported the DA have realised that the ANC cannot be reformed or self-corrected. The logical thing to do is to support the only party that has a proven track record as both a sound opposition and alternative government,” said Jankielsohn.
He described the development as a decisive moment in the politics of the province that could signify a tipping point in the political environment within the Free State.
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