Council Chaos on MONC

The tension rose and opposition Councillors argued that the interpretation can only be that an item did not serve and therefore cannot be seen as to have had a council resolution taken.

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The council meeting of Govan Mbeki Municipality held in the council chambers on Thursday 31 January erupted in chaos.
The Democratic Alliance tabled a Motion of No Confidence in the Mayor, Cllr TY Ngxonono. Opposition parties all supported the motion while most of the ANC councillors did not.
The meeting started at 11H00 with high security. There were also restrictions on the number of public spectators allowed.
It became clear very early in the meeting that the Speaker, Cllr NG Zuma, was determined to be in control of the outcome of the meeting. During the approval of the minutes of 25 October 2018, a very long and arduous debate followed on the interpretation of the word “withdraw” and how it should be interpreted in a council meeting.
Withdraw is defined in the Oxford Dictionary as follows: “Remove or take away (something) from a particular place or position” and “Discontinue or no longer provide (something previously supplied or offered).” The Speaker maintained that it served before council even if it was withdrawn.
The tension rose and opposition Councillors argued that the interpretation can only be that an item did not serve and therefore cannot be seen as to have had a council resolution taken. Zuma was adamant that because of its inclusion in the minutes it served before council and council took a decision. Even if that decision was only to withdraw the motion. “This interpretation is not correct” maintains Cllr Thulani Maseko, Whip of the DA Caucus in GMM, “If something is withdrawn it means that it did not serve before council.”
Councillors from the ANC responded in accordance with their Caucus decision the Bulletin learned. The caucus decision was to protect the Mayor at all costs as per our information. “The easiest way to disallow a motion tabled for discussion later in the agenda is to establish a timeline that will disallow the motion on a technical point,” said DA Caucus leader Ciska Jordaan.
Sapromo, Councillor S Hlolweni, argued the point vigorously and very verbally whilst ANC councillors kept on heckling the opposition. Zuma kept to his initial interpretation and made a ruling that it means that council took a decision to withdraw and therefore that is the official stance of council. This decision will have dire consequences for future motions and resolutions.
The DA managed to have an urgent motion accepted to install only aluminium cables in future to deter the theft of copper cables.
At the agenda point reading Motions the ANC plot became very clear. It was clear that the ANC, under leadership of the Speaker, will use the date of the withdrawal as their basis for disallowing certain motions.
Section 16.6 of the standing orders reads as follows: A motion may not be submitted if it:
16.6.1 is intended to rescind or amend a resolution passed by the Council within the preceding three months; 16.6.2 has the same purport as a motion which was rejected within the preceding three months.
Speaker Zuma immediately dismissed the motion of Cllr S Hlolweni on the basis that it was submitted directly after the council meeting dated 25 October and therefore did not wait the prescribed 3-month period as per standing orders, even though his motion in October did not serve.
The motion by the DA was the catalyst that made the proverbial pot boil over. The proposal to suspend the standing orders were won by the opposition under laud applause by the opposition parties.
A vote was held to allow the Motion of No Confidence. Zuma then said that he has no rules to follow to allow for the rest of the Council meeting to continue.
The house erupted in angry shouts from all parties that the Systems Act allows for that, but the Speaker refused to continue. Verbal arguments ensued with ANC councillors hurtling abuse at the opposition parties. Cllr Thulani lambasted the ANC and in particular the Speaker on their violation of the structures act and their continued disregard of the South African law.
The meeting was adjourned after 5 hours of arguments and no item on the agenda discussed. The “ANC want to look after their own at all costs, even if it means disregarding the law” said Cllr Aranda Nel-Buitendag FF+ councillor.
Here is the full motion as submitted to council by Councillor Ciska Jordaan.
TO: Municipal Manager, Govan Mbeki Municipality
For the attention the Honourable Speaker and Members of Council
The Democratic Alliance hereby submits a MOTION to remove the Executive Mayor, Thandi Ngxonono, from office, as is allowed by Section 58 of the Local Government Structures Act “A Municipal Council, by resolution may remove its Executive Mayor or Deputy Executiv Mayor from office. Prior notice of an intention to move a motion for the removal of the Executive Mayor or Deputy Executive Mayor must be given.”
The Democratic Alliance has lost confidence in her leadership as accountable political head of this municipality for the following reasons:
• It was under her leadership as the MMC of the finance department that has become completely incompetent in performing its function of generating revenue for the municipality in order to deliver services to the residents of Govan Mbeki; during the migration to a different financial system. This was caused by a catastrophe following the appointment of an inept service provider. Even today more than a year later, the municipality battles to provide accurate bills to residents and generate adequate revenue.
• This has inevitably led to increases to the overall debt of the municipality. Our debts are continuously rising. According to the most recent reports, the ESKOM and Rand Water debts has collectively accumulated to more than a Billion Rand.
• Section 56 of the Municipal Structures Act stipulates that an Executive Mayor should (3)€ oversee the provision of services to communities in the municipality in a sustainable manner. Cllr Ngxonono has numerously and consistently contravened this very important mandate. For almost a year, refuse removal was totally inconsistent. The electricity crisis in eMbalanhle continues with no sustainable solution. Sewer is everywhere in the streets, water is wasting everywhere while not every person even has access to water in this municipal area. Most recently, the people in Bethal have been without water nearing a whole month. These are simple examples of a very long list of what is called “challenges”, that are in some cases a violation of the constitutional rights of the residents of Govan Mbeki.
• The Department planning and development has actually proven to have improved since she has no longer been the MMC for that portfolio. This was according to findings of the Auditor General as well as the Municipal Public Accounts Committee last year.
• There is no continuity in the portfolios that are led by her mayoral committee, or the Departmental heads of the municipality. MMCs of various portfolios have been reshuffled twice and it has taken an undesirably long time to appoint an MM and other senior managers in almost every single department.
• It was under her leadership that the proposed budget had an enormous deficit, which was balanced in some or other way, eventually resulting in the council approving a budget that simply is not able to deliver services.

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