Molefe Seeletsa

By Molefe Seeletsa

Digital Journalist

City of Joburg gets new speaker as DA boycotts ‘R600k’ council meeting

Margaret Arnolds has replaced former council speaker Colleen Makhubele.

African Independent Congress (AIC) councillor, Margaret Arnolds, has been elected as the new speaker of council for the City of Joburg.

Arnolds was elected unopposed in a special council sitting on Monday to replace former Congress of the People (Cope) councillor, Colleen Makhubele, who vacated the speaker position last week.

Makhubele was fired by Cope for declaring that the party had joined a new political formation, the South African Rainbow Alliance (Sara), without the leadership’s approval.

Joburg city manager Floyd Brink, who presided over the council sitting, announced Cope’s Gauteng deputy secretary Johnny Mokome as a new proportional representational (PR) councillor to replace Makhubele.

DA boycotts meeting

Brink said the sitting would proceed as the meeting had reached a quorum, with 169 councillors present inside the council chamber.

African National Congress (ANC) Joburg chief whip Sithembiso Zungu informed the council meeting that councillors from the Democratic Alliance (DA) would not be in attendance.

“I received an apology from the DA caucus and I would like to read it on record. It is as follows: ‘please note that we, the DA caucus, are unable to attend the meeting today due to the short notice period and prior commitments that our councillors cannot cancel at this late stage’,” Zungu said.

WATCH: ‘I was fired because I had the courage to voice my ambition’ – Makhubele

However, the DA said in a statement that its councillors were boycotting the sitting as it was a waste of money.

“The DA will not be complicit in such a waste of money and will, therefore, not be attending the meeting. Our position remains clear, the Johannesburg council must be resolved, and we will not give legitimacy to the doomsday coalition, while they are being frivolous with the taxpayers’ money,” DA Joburg caucus leader, Belinda Kayser-Echeozonjoku, said on Monday.

Kayser-Echeozonjoku said there was no need for the metropolitan municipality to spend R600 000 on an extraordinary meeting just to elect a speaker, when an ordinary council sitting was set to take place next week.

“In a cash-strapped metro, spending R600 000 is no laughing matter. We have been clear – the revolving door of mayors and speakers will not change Johannesburg’s dire situation,” she said.

Arnold’s speech

Meanwhile, Arnolds delivered her maiden speech as the new Joburg speaker, saying she was “humbled” by her election.

“Councillors of the City of Joburg, I thank you for entrusting me with this position,” she said.

“The speaker of council is among other responsible for safeguarding the independence of council and maintaining the authority thereof and to ensure that the standing orders of council are observed.

READ MORE: City of Joburg ‘flouting processes and it’s costing taxpayers’

“It is indeed possible to achieve such working together with all 217 councillors, political party leaders and whips. It is incumbent on all of us to ensure that the decorum of council is maintain collectively, not only by one or two.

“This is a platform we use to express the views of our constituencies and the general residents of the City of Johannesburg. This is a space we share ideas of how to best service our residents, therefore, we need to protect and use this space fruitfully to the benefit of our residents,” the AIC councillor added.

Watch the council meeting below:

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