City of Tshwane ‘at risk of being placed under administration’

Councillors in the City of Tshwane will elect a new mayor at a special council meeting set for Tuesday, but it is not at all a given that the ruling multi-party coalition’s mayoral candidate Cilliers Brink will come out victorious.

This after Cope was “kicked out” of the coalition that consists of the Democratic Alliance (DA), African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP), ActionSA, Freedom Front Plus and Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP).

Without Cope, the coalition parties have lost a very slim majority of 108 out of a total of 214. In addition, ActionSA has been dealing with some disciplinary issues among its councillors and at least one DA councillor is rumoured to be unable to participate in the vote due to illness.

Read: Tshwane’s mayor resigns

The council has been leaderless since the resignation of former mayor Randall Williams on 13 February. His resignation came in the wake of an adverse report by Auditor-General Tsakani Maluleke and an investigation into his alleged unlawful interference with the administration to force a deal with the Kratos consortium relating to the city’s defunct power stations at Rooiwal and Pretoria-West.


Confusion ensued after his resignation, with Williams at first indicating that it would take effect at midnight on the day of his resignation, then changing his mind, saying in a second resignation letter he would stay on until the end of February, although he would be on leave until then.

Speaker of Council Dr Murunwa Makwarela (Cope) at first accepted the second letter but changed his mind based on an external legal opinion that confirmed the validity of the first.

This resulted in the mayoral committee being disbanded with effect from midnight on 13 February and all decisions taken by it since being invalid.

Makwarela then called a special council meeting for Tuesday (28 February) for the election of the mayor.

This came against the background of rumours that he may also have his eye on the position of first citizen.

Provincial intervention in ‘collapsing municipality’

In the meantime, Gauteng Premier Panyaza Lesufi (ANC) in his State of the Province address said the provincial government would “intervene in that municipality as a matter of urgency.”

Lesufi said one of the municipalities in Gauteng that is worrying the provincial government “is Tshwane, which has deteriorated, is struggling to pay Eskom” and the latest Auditor-General report “has painted a bleak picture of a collapsing municipality”.

Coalition petition

In an effort to get the city’s adjustment budget passed before the deadline on 28 February, to ward off efforts by Lesufi to place Tshwane under administration, the multi-party coalition submitted a petition to Makwarela to bring the meeting forward to Friday (24 February).

They also stated that they would bring a motion of no confidence in Makwarela.

When Makwarela refused, saying the coalition did not have enough signatures, and the petition would not comply with the rules that require 48 hours’ notice, the coalition approached city manager Johann Mettler to call the meeting.

In a statement, the coalition threatened court action should Mettler also refuse.

In a letter to chief whip Christo van den Heever, Mettler explained that he is not entitled to call another meeting, since Makwarela has already done exactly that.

“I want to be very clear that the speaker made a decision as he is rightfully entitled to do. The speaker did not abscond or unreasonably refuse to make a decision.”

Mettler advises Van den Heever that the coalition must, if it wants to challenge the decision, take it on review.

Despite the coalition’s threat, Makwarela confirmed on Friday afternoon that no court papers have been served on him and the meeting on 28 February will proceed.

He said the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) will see him at his office on Monday morning to plan the election. It has processed the resignation of DA councillor Sean Cox and added Brink to the DA list after he resigned as member of parliament.

‘Taking chances’

Makwarela said the coalition was “taking chances” by raising fear of the provincial government taking over if the adjustment budget is not passed by the end of the month, because Mettler has already obtained a month’s extension from National Treasury.

Asked whether he will stand as a candidate against Brink, Makwarela said he is part of the coalition, “despite them kicking us out”.

He said to stand for the position as mayor, one has to be nominated. “If there are people who want to nominate me, you must ask them about it.”

Rush for votes

Opposition parties – including the ANC, Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) and several minority parties – are said to be furiously recruiting votes and hope to get at least one or two from disgruntled councillors representing parties within the coalition.

Three minority parties – the Republican Congress of Tshwane (with former DA councillor Lex Middelberg as its only member in the council), and the African Independent Congress (AIC) and African Transformation Movement (ATM), also with only one councillor each – have already submitted motions of no confidence in Van den Heever as chief whip, as well as all the chairs of the Section 79 oversight committees, plus another asking for an investigation into Mettler’s conduct.

These, as well as the adjustment budget, will be dealt with in council later, since the meeting on 28 February is solely for the election of the new mayor, Makwarela said.

City of Tshwane Council, current seats per party

ANC 75
DA 69
EFF 23
ActionSA 19
Freedom Front Plus 17
Cope 1
Defenders of the People 1
Good 1
Patriotic Alliance 1
Pan African Congress 1
Republican Conference of Tshwane 1