There was an immediate power play in the newly inaugurated Ndlambe council on Tuesday November 23 as the ANC caucus took the executive committee portfolio positions it wanted and voted with the EFF to force the DA into the finance portfolio.
There was also controversy over the election of brand new councillor Thandiswa Dyakala as mayor, with EFF councillor Xolisa Runeli asking if she was a “caretaker mayor” or the actual mayor.
Municipal manager Rolly Dumezweni led the proceedings to the point of the election of the speaker, ANC councillor Andile Marasi. Marasi was one of only two returning ANC councillors, the other being Ward 9 councillor Siyabulela Melani. The other nine ANC councillors are all first-timers.
One, Athenkosi Diniso, was absent from the inauguration and Dumezweni said Diniso had not submitted any leave of absence.
Of the 11 ANC councillors, Dyakala is the only woman.
The DA has two women among its six councillors, and the EFF has one woman among its three councillors.
When it came time for the election of the speaker, the EFF asked for a five minute break to caucus, even though all the parties had caucused before the inauguration. It turned out to be longer than five minutes, and Dumezweni noted the DA had taken the longest to return from the break.
Nevertheless, Marasi was elected uncontested.
“I am humbled and honoured to be elected speaker,” he said.
“I want to ensure the people of Ndlambe we will serve all of you, despite your vote.”
He said the two biggest problems in Ndlambe were the water crisis and unemployment, and both would be prioritised.
Despite Marasi’s insistence that politics should take a back seat to service delivery in the new council, the ANC immediately used its majority when it came to the election of members of the executive committee.
The ANC was first to nominate and second its chosen councillors for the portfolios of corporate services (Dyakala) and infrastructure (Asanda Nyumka).
Although DA councillor Skura Venene raised a point of order that other all parties should be allowed to nominate their choices before the ANC summarily approved their nominees, the DA chose not to contest the corporate services and infrastructure portfolios.
At this point Dumezweni said two portfolio positions in exco would be taken by the ANC because of their majority, and the DA and EFF would each get one of the other two portfolios.
The EFF nominated Nokuthula Memani as their choice for community protection services, and the DA nominated Venene. It came to a vote and all the ANC councillors voted for the EFF nominee, outvoting the DA.
The newly sworn-in ANC councillors and their supporters in the gallery laughed and applauded as they forced the DA to take on the portfolio of finance.
Venene said he accepted the finance portfolio “with reservations”. The new DA caucus did not want the position after witnessing how it had been used against former DA incumbent Ray Schenk, as well as his predecessor Ross Purdon.
The meeting dragged on with further delays in the nomination and election of representatives to the Sarah Baartman District Council.
Dumezweni said by quota, two of the three positions available would go to the ANC, and one to the DA. In a surprise move, EFF councillor Xolisa Runeli seconded the DA’s nomination of Venene, but fellow DA councillor Phil Kani said they didn’t need the EFF’s second.
An IEC official was present and said he would have to take over the process, adding that all three parties could submit nominations.
Ultimately the election of district council representative was postponed to the next council meeting, as well as the establishment of the municipal public accounts committee (MPAC).