Mogale City’s secret ballot spat is Parliament in reverse

Axed Mogale City mayor Michael Holenstein has claimed the ANC bribed council members to support a motion against him.

Holenstein, a Democratic Alliance member, was removed as mayor after a motion of no confidence against him was conducted by secret ballot. The motion was passed with a majority of one single vote.

The DA, the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) and the Freedom Front Plus (FF+) were all opposed to the motion being conducted by secret ballot.

At national level, all three parties have been calling for a secret ballot for the proposed motion of no confidence against President Jacob Zuma.

The three opposition parties support the United Democratic Movement’s application to the Constitutional Court seeking an order that the Constitution would allow a secret ballot on the motion. Judgment is pending in that case.

Similarly, the ANC, virulently opposed to the secret ballot at national level, supported it in Mogale City.

The Mogale City speaker, the ANC’s Patrick Lipuli, denied the allegation of bribery. “These are things people normally say when results are not in their favour,” he said.

Lipuli said he decided on the secret ballot to allow council members to vote with their consciences and not their emotions.

“It is what these parties have been calling for in Parliament and I have given it to them here without them having to ask and go to court. I am allowing them to use their conscience and not their emotion,” Lipuli said.

Holenstein accused the ANC of deliberately trying to destabilise the council so it could be put under administration.

He was elected Mogale City mayor after the 2016 local government elections, when the DA entered into a coalition with the EFF, the IFP and the FF+.

Holenstein said that, since the ANC lost control of the city, it has made it difficult for the DA-led coalition to govern – which has had a negative effect on service delivery.

To date, the coalition government has not been able to pass the budget because of the many disruptions caused by the ANC in council meetings, he said.

“There has been some resistance from the ANC and the speaker’s office because they did not want us to finalise the integrated development planning and budget process, and it seems like they are getting help from higher structures within the ANC to destabilise Mogale City to a point where there is an intervention from province and the MEC,” Holenstein said.

The leader of the DA in Gauteng, John Moodey, lamented the events of the council meeting and warned that the municipality faced a high chance of falling under administration.

“What happened in Mogale City on Wednesday is a shame and, to be honest, there is a great possibility that the municipality might fall under administration. If you have a municipality that remains hung and seems reluctant to elect a mayor and a new mayoral committee the chances of [administration] are very high,” said Moodey.

He said a secret ballot was a legitimate democratic process but the speaker’s political affiliation heavily influenced how he conducted himself.

“Despite the concern about the use of a secret ballot, we have to admit that it is a democratic process. The process is fine. The problem is the speaker and his bias,” Moodey said.

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