The African National Congress (ANC) has threatened to take legal action over a decision by Speaker of Johannesburg Metropolitan Municipality, Vasco da Gama, to postpone a council meeting convened to elect new mayor on Thursday.
Da Gama raised concern about council rules that he said stipulate a 50% plus one majority rule during council elections. But he said the council required a legal opinion on the interpretation of the Municipal Structures Act.
“I really need to take a decision on this and my decision is that we should postpone this meeting to 4 December 2019,” said Da Gama.
Johannesburg does not have a mayor after Herman Mashaba vacated office on Wednesday, following his resignation last month.
The ANC accused Da Gama of imposing the decision to postpone the vote, saying council did not vote on that. ANC spokesperson, Dakota Legoete, said the Democratic Alliance (DA) - a party that Da Gama belongs to - acted like power mongers.
"The DA and its cohorts are just very bad for South Africa because they are worried about power. They are not worried about our people. They are not worried about service delivery. This is just bad for democracy because this is how civil war starts. It's irresponsible,” Legoete said.
He also accused the DA of not wanting to lose once they get their hands on power.
The angry Legoete painted Da Gama as a “lazy, mediocre, bully and irresponsible” for failing to seek the said legal opinion before approving a council sitting.
"To come right into council and say you want a legal opinion, that is pure criminality. The DA is just postponing their pain, they are just postponing what is a reality that is coming to them. This is just a breach of the law. Today council quorated. There is no way that 269 councillors out of 270 is not 40%. What transpired here is a pure fabrication and frivolous story. They have connived. They have colluded to run away from this council meeting," he said.
But the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) and the DA agree with the postponement to next week.
“The meeting has adjourned to get a legal advice despite what you just heard from the ANC. It was a correct and proper thing to do,” said the DA’s Mark Moriarty, who accused Legoete of being “highly sensationalist about the postponement”.
“The last thing you want is that when the election takes place somebody, somewhere, who doesn’t like the results then goes to court and then it’s undone,” he said.
EFF Deputy President, Floyd Shivambu, said there were still many issues to deal with on the 4th and the 5th [December] when council meets again.
The ANC has got 122 councillors in Johannesburg, the DA 103 and the EFF 33. Any party that will win the mayor’s seat needs 136 votes to secure victory.