Political mudslinging has intensified between City of Johannesburg speaker Vasco da Gama and Gauteng MEC Lebogang Maile following the speaker’s decision to postpone a special council meeting to elect a new mayor.
Maile is the MEC for human settlements, urban planning and cooperative governance and traditional affairs (Cogta).
Da Gama, who cited ambiguity and confusion around the Municipal Structural Act as the reason for the postponement, fobbed off threats from Maile on Tuesday and called them baseless.
The postponement decision led to an onslaught of threats from Maile to Da Gama, and Da Gama was even asked to give reasons why he should not be removed from his position.
In his latest letter, Maile demands to know if former DA mayor Herman Mashaba’s mayoral committee still enjoyed the benefits of their positions.
“To this effect, should any of the former members of the mayoral committee still enjoy the said privileges and benefits, such as tools of trade, administrative support etc, this should immediately cease as some will be unlawful,” Maile said.
The Municipal Structural Act states that, if the executive mayor vacates office, the mayoral committee appointed by that executive mayor dissolves.
However, Da Gama has hit back at Maile, accusing him of using his muscle in the office to further ANC politics.
The ANC had expressed great confidence that it will take control of the City again after courting some of the DA’s coalition partners.
Responding to Maile’s recent letter, Da Gama said none of Mashaba’s MMCs still enjoyed privileges afforded by the position “although some were left vulnerable due to security assessments”.
Da Gama said the DA understood the law, adding that all MMCs in Mashaba’s administration were now ordinary councillors.
“Why is it that he wants to micromanage local government? We are well equipped to manage our own affairs. Why should I be answerable to him? He has given me seven days, I will respond in due course. All I can say is he is threatening to remove me as councillor, he knows he doesn’t have the right.”
Da Gama said Maile was quoting a paragraph in Item 14 of the Act, and advised him to read the entire section “fully”.
“I imagine he is not receiving the right legal advice,” Da Gama added.
Maile has also demanded that Da Gama have an audience with the whips of all parties represented in the City council, as well as the rules committee, prior to the actual council meeting.
“The purpose is to create convergence and achieve consensus on the conduct of the forthcoming council proceedings. In addition, I further advise that the Independent Electoral Commission be invited to the forthcoming council meeting to observe and provide counsel when necessary,” Maile wrote.
Meanwhile, ANC councillor and Johannesburg regional spokesperson Jolidee Matongo has also thrown in his weight in the matter.
In a statement, Matongo said the ANC was aware of another plan by the DA to collapse the council if things do not go according to the DA-led coalition.
“We want to assure the residents of Johannesburg that tomorrow the ANC and its partners in council will do everything possible to ensure that an executive mayor is elected and a government is formed.
“The DA-led coalition’s continued sabotaging of the process is a clear indication of their desperate attempts to stay in power even when they know that as things stand, there is no government in Johannesburg. Their actions are a clear indication of the fact that they have little regard for service delivery and the well-being of Johannesburg residents,” he said.
DA Gauteng chair Mike Moriarty rubbished Matongo’s allegations saying that “there are no such plans” by the party.