The African National Congress’ Geoff Makhubo was elected mayor of the City of Johannesburg on Wednesday, meaning the key metro will now once again be governed by the party, which lost it to a DA-led coalition government in the 2016 municipal elections.
Makhubo won with 137 votes. The DA only managed 101, meaning at least three of its councillors didn’t vote for it in a surprise outcome (the DA has 104 seats including its alliance partners the ACDP and Freedom Front Plus), which many thought was headed for a second round.
All of the EFF’s 30 councillors voted for their candidate, Musa Novela, which contributed to helping Makhubo to defeat the DA’s Funzela Ngobeni by a wide margin.
It means that all the smaller parties, including the IFP, supported the ANC.
Former mayor Herman Mashaba, who resigned from the DA in October and gave notice as mayor, served his last day in office on November 27.
The vote on Wednesday marked the second attempt to elect the City of Johannesburg’s new mayor after proceedings were postponed last week.
When Makhubo was officially nominated ahead of the vote, cries of “tsotsi, tsotsi” aimed at the corruption-accused ANC politician could be heard resounding through chambers.
The ANC has the most seats in the Joburg council – 121 – and needed an additional 15 votes from other parties, assuming all its councillors toed the party line.
He was chosen by the ANC despite its provincial executive committee (PEC) reportedly rejecting his candidacy.
He was accused in a report by investigative journalism centre amaBhungane of having earned R30 million as an “influence broker” in a deal between the City of Johannesburg and controversial Gupta-linked company Regiments Capital.
This led to charges being laid by Mashaba against Makhubo as well as former Joburg mayor Parks Tau, as well as an investigation by the ANC’s ethics committee, which is reportedly still ongoing, despite Makhubo recently tweeted that he had been “cleared” by it.
It was established ahead of the vote that two of councillors were not present, making the total of number of participants 267 as opposed to the expected 269 – which would be the total of council seats, 270, minus that of ANC councillor David Monamodi, who passed away in November.
The dispute over what constitutes a majority – with some parties arguing that the candidate with the highest amount of votes would become Joburg’s new mayor and others saying that a majority must mean over 50% of the vote – was resolved earlier on Wednesday.
According to council speaker Vasco da Gama, a majority can only mean more than half of the votes. This meant that of 267 councillors present, a majority vote would be 134 votes or more – or 50% plus one.
Da Gama also clarified that if no candidate received the majority of the votes, the candidate with the fewest votes would be eliminated until a majority was achieved.
It was also declared that the vote would be a secret ballot due to there being more than one candidate.
A delay took place while an objection from the EFF to the speaker’s interpretation of the law was resolved.
The day began with Gauteng MEC of cooperative government and traditional affairs Lebogang Maile trying to get Da Gama to meet with the chief whips of the various parties, after voicing concerns over his decision to postpone proceedings last week.
It was reported earlier Maile threatened this morning to take over the metro if a new mayor is not elected today, echoing a warning issued by Gauteng premier David Makhura on Tuesday.
News24’s Tshidi Madia tweeted that she spoke to a senior ANC provincial leader who said the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) had made a deal with the party, whereby it will get to positions in the executive, and keep power in KwaZulu-Natal.
However, it was reported yesterday that both the DA and the ANC appeared to believe they had made a deal with the IFP, with the DA saying it had received assurance from the party’s national leaders.
The party’s provincial leadership, however, appears to have proceeded with some kind of deal with the ANC.
The same leader also told Madia the EFF reached out to the party, but added that its choice of mayoral candidate – the corruption-accused Makhubo – remained a concern to the red berets.