ANC Johannesburg chairperson Geoff Makhubo has been elected as mayor of South African’s economic hub, after at least two members of the Democratic Alliance voted against their own mayoral candidate, Funzela Ngobeni.
Makhubo — a former finance MMC who was embroiled in a R30-million scandal over doing business with the city — beat Ngobeni, who secured 101 votes, by a 26 vote margin. A total of 104 DA councillors voted in the mayoral election in which the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) fielded its caucus chairperson, Musa Novela, who received 30 votes out of a total of 267 votes cast.
The Mail & Guardian understands that the ANC offered the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) two seats on the mayoral committee along with the mayorship of the Abaqulusi Local Municipality in KwaZulu-Natal, in return for backing Makhubo.
Neither Makhubo nor ANC secretary general Ace Magashule, who was at the council meeting along with the ANC’s provincial leadership, would comment on the content of the deal struck with the IFP.
The election of Makhubo ends rule of the city by the DA-lead coalition with the EFF and IFP since 2016, when they won control of the city from the ANC. It also marks the end of the coalition between the opposition parties, which was broken by the resignation of Herman Mashaba as mayor at the end of October.
Makhubo defended his election, saying that while his company had done business with the city from 2004, he had declared this interest when he became a councillor in 2011.
“We are not fazed by those allegations,” Makhubo said shortly after being elected. “The EFF want to remain kingmakers. It doesn’t matter who would have stood, they would have thrown everything at them.’’
EFF deputy president Floyd Shivambu, who was involved in talks with Magashule ahead of the vote, had told the media the choice of Makhubo had stopped the EFF from backing the ANC candidate.
Makhubo said he would do his best to serve the people of Johannesburg.
ANC spokesperson Pule Mabe, who was at the council meeting with Magashule, called on the media and political parties to show Makhubo the same respect they had shown Mashaba.
“Geoff was cleared by the integrity commission. He is the chair of the region and now he is going to be mayor of the city until 2021,” Mabe said.
Shivambu said there would be no legal challenge to the electoral process. EFF candidate Musa Novela had earlier challenged a plan for a run-off election, resulting in a decision to hold a single vote with the candidate that got 50% of the votes cast, plus one vote, emerging as mayor.
But Shivambu did say that the EFF would not support any budget presented by Makhubo as he “cannot be trusted” with public finances.
“We will not hand over the purse of Geoff Makhubo. He is not to be trusted with the finances of the city. That is why we told the ANC anyone else but Geoff,” Shivambu said.
DA Gauteng chairperson Mike Moriarty said he was “very disappointed” that DA councillors had voted for the ANC.
While he downplayed the numbers, Moriarty said all non-ANC councillors who voted for Makhubo needed to examine their consciences for voting for “somebody who is thoroughly compromised”.
Moriarty said the outcome was a “very sad day” for Johannesburg and the country.
“The people who need to drive home tonight and ask themselves what they have done are the councillors who aren’t from the ANC, as 15 other councillors voted for him.”
He added that the DA councillors who voted for Makhubo “shouldn’t stay a second longer” in the party.