Brink, Mathebe tipped to replace Williams in Tshwane

Speaker Makwarela's job hangs in the balance

Fikile-Ntsikelelo Moya Political Editor
Dr Murunwa Makwarela- Speaker of Tshwane Council
Dr Murunwa Makwarela- Speaker of Tshwane Council
Image: Twitter

As the expectations that either Cilliers Brink or Katlego Mathebe will be named as Tshwane's next mayoral candidate, the political fortunes of speaker of council Dr Murunwa Makwarela have taken a nosedive.

Makwarela, a Cope councillor, faces a possible vote of no confidence agitated by members of the governing coalition he is part of, after being accused of badly handling the resignation of mayor Randall Williams.

The coalition of the DA, ActionSA, Freedom Front Plus, IFP, ACDP and Cope has 108 seats between them in the 214-seat council, and would have enough numbers to pass any council decision even without Cope’s lone ballot.

Further making Makwarela’s future precarious is that he has long-standing enmity with the EFF in the council and this would make them more likely to vote against him.

The red berets previously threatened to table a motion of no confidence against Makwarela when they accused him of “suppressing” their views by calling online meetings when the EFF preferred physical gatherings.

Their threats have come to nought because coalition partners have rallied around Makwarela. They argued that he had called online meetings for the safety of council members and to deny the EFF an opportunity to grandstand.

A senior ActionSA leader confirmed that the party would be seeking to get the “ambitious” Makwarela voted out of his position as head of the city’s legislature.

Makwarela’s departure will open a door for one of the coalition partners who did not have a representative in the city governance structures.

Williams announced that he would be stepping down from his position at midnight of the day he handed in his resignation.

A few hours later, he announced he would extend his stay by 14 more days, arguing that his immediate resignation would plunge the municipality into potential chaos because the mayoral committee would, by law, also need to resign once the city did not have a mayor.

Makwarela angered his partners when he insisted that the first resignation letter was the only legitimate correspondence and therefore the city did not have a mayor until it elected Williams's successor.

Coalition partners, convinced that there was nothing to discuss, forced Makwarela to cancel a special council meeting he had called for last Wednesday to discuss the mayor’s resignation.

Makwarela said he was aware that some members of the governing coalition wanted him out.

“Yes, I'm aware of this. I'm reliably told it's instigated by Randall himself in his caucus. Other caucuses, like ACDP, ActionSA and IFP don't have a problem with me. I'm not too sure about FF+ since they're always aligned with the DA,” said Makwarela.

Meanwhile, DA insiders have told Sowetan that Brink and Mathebe were neck-and-neck in the race to be announced as the candidate to replace Williams.

Three other candidates, Jacqui Uys, Peter Sutton and Kingsley Wakelin applied and were interviewed for the post. With the exception of Brink, all are current councillors in the metro.

Brink is the DA’s shadow minister for cooperative governance and traditional affairs and the party’s national spokesperson.

The announcement was expected to be made on Tuesday after the party’s selection panel concluded its processes and allowed for appeals, if any, to be filed by Sunday.

The DA is understood to have met with coalition partners on Monday to brief about the decision of the selection panel.

A senior leader in one of the parties making up the coalition said the agreement between parties explicitly gave the DA the right to nominate the mayor in Tshwane.

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