A Democratic Alliance councillor faces expulsion from the party after the ANC reclaimed the Mogale City municipality in Wednesday night’s mayoral elections.
ANC Mogale City speaker Patrick Lipudi was elected mayor by 39 votes to 36, beating the DA’s Michael Holenstein, who has been mayor since the ANC was unseated in the local government elections last year.
As a result, the official opposition is investigating dissent in its own ranks.
Two of the ballots were spoilt, and another vote that was apparently meant to go to the DA from the coalition partners and its councillors went to Lipudi.
“I have no reason to want to believe that any of our voting partners is responsible,” DA Gauteng leader John Moodey said of the vote.
All except one DA councillor agreed to undergo lie-detector tests after Holenstein was deposed by a motion of no confidence two weeks ago. Brandon May did not take the test and chose to resign from the party.
Moodey said the DA would take the “necessary” action after the investigation.
“This is simply politics of the cheque book and these things have the tendency of coming out in the wash. If we have undisputed evidence against one of our own councillors, we will take necessary disciplinary action.”
According to section 3.5 of the DA’s constitution, members who vote against a caucus decision can be expelled. Moodey said this needs to be adhered to, “unless it’s issues that weighs on your conscience, such as death penalty or same-sex marriages”.
But, he said, this does not mean the DA is guilty of double standards by continuing its call for ANC members to vote with their conscience in the motion of no confident in President Jacob Zuma. He argued that the DA was not part of the United Democratic Movement’s application to the Constitutional Court to have a motion of no confidence in Zuma conducted in secret.
Political analyst Ralph Mathekga warned that punitive action against DA councillors could backfire.
“Political parties are going to find it difficult to discipline their members because they are being affected by local politics, which is very distinct. No party can fully rein in local leadership,” Mathekga said.
The DA insists the ANC speaker “stole” the mayorship by presiding over the election while being a candidate, marking two ballots in favour of Holenstein as spoilt, and insisting that councillors use a municipal stamp to conduct voting.
“There is reasonable grounds for us to go to court to get an interdict and reverse this thing,” Moodey said.
The Economic Freedom Fighters said the ANC regaining control of the municipality reflected the “pains of democracy”.
“Our voters and supporters will have to understand that sometimes these are the pains of democracy. We are in the middle and we are at the mercy of both the ANC and DA,” said the EFF’s acting Gauteng chairperson, Mandisa Mashego.
The ANC West Rand deputy chairperson, Mzi Khumalo, said the party was elated by the mayoral vote result.