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Political Standoff in Ekurhuleni Amid Council Chaos and Report Prioritization

Published March 14, 2024
2 months ago

The Ekurhuleni metropolitan municipality was engulfed by political turmoil during a recent council meeting when a debate intensified over whether to prioritize the auditor-general's report or a no-confidence motion against Mayor Sivuyile Ngodwana. This debate came on the heels of a previously collapsed meeting marred by disorder, where EFF councillors aggressively confronted ANC members, culminating in the theft of the mayor's cellphone.

Despite strong opposition, Speaker Nthabiseng Ntshaveni of the EFF led the contentious decision to foreground the AG report. This was supported by council whip Jongiziwe Dlabathi of the ANC, who underscored the urgency of the mayor addressing the report ahead of addressing his political standing. He evoked the potential for further disruptions which could impede the critical disclosure to the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE).

Arguments within the council chamber mirrored a 99 to 98 vote split, a narrow margin that signaled prioritizing the AG report over the no-confidence motion, prompting immediate backlash from the opposition. The DA's Mike Waters led the multi-party opposition's departure from the chamber, decrying the session as "illegal" and protesting the agenda's rearrangement.

Outside the council building, friction escalated as groups, purporting to be hostel dwellers, stirred to interrupt the proceedings. A demonstration led to the speaker receiving a memorandum of demands, regarded by many as a stratagem by the EFF to derail the no-confidence motion.

Siyanda Makhubo of ActionSA decried the manipulation of the agenda and voiced suspicions regarding the EFF's motives, with accusations that they were stonewalling the council's process. He critically noted the speaker's involvement in receiving the memorandum as an errant and deliberate obstruction.

City Manager Imogen Mashazi emphasized the report's importance to officials and to the JSE. She stressed the need to present the AG's findings without further delay, highlighting that the city's financial health remains robust and distinct from issues of service delivery, which received a clean audit.

Despite the multi-party opposition's assurances of sufficient support to topple Mayor Ngodwana, the council proceeded with tabling the report and adjourned. ActionSA remains adamant that the subsequent no-confidence motion will result in the mayor's removal.

This event encapsulates the inherent complexities within coalition governments and reflects a potential disintegration of the ANC-EFF alliance. Such fracturing points to a broader narrative of political reconfiguration that Ekurhuleni may soon witness, as Dlabathi hinted at a possible breakup meant to restore proper governance and halt the municipality's decline.

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