Johannesburgers waited anxiously to learn who the new leader of the greatest city in Africa and the economic hub of our country would be. The ANC/EFF coalition, together with the Patriotic Alliance of Kenny Kunene and Gayton Mackenzie, finally gave us a new puppet mayor: Kabelo Gwamanda from a party called Al Jamah Ah. It has 3 seats out of 270 in the City Council.
Gauteng Premier Lesufi, fast building himself a reputation for being a bumbling ass, only interested in publicity and promoting his own interests and career, put down a revolt, with the assistance of the Secretary General of the ANC, Fikile Mbalula (also not known for sound judgement), of ANC councillors who refused to vote for Gwamanda at first. Lesufi reassured them that this was necessary to keep the EFF on board (he needs the EFF to keep him as premier in 2024), and assured them the ANC was really in control of the city through the mayoral committee and would decide on the policy and direction of the city, irrespective of the views of puppet Gwamanda.
It seemed that Johannesburgers would have to put up with another unknown mediocrity, for whom they had not voted, foisted on them by the ANC/EFF coalition.
The role played by ActionSA in all of this was despicable. Somehow, they always fall in love with unsuitable people and parties. One remembers that Mayor Mashaba, led by the nose by Michael Beaumont, came to be called the “EFF Mayor of Johannesburg” by none other than Julius Malema. True to form, Beaumont and ASA went and connived with the Patriotic Alliance, prepared for the third time to swop sides in return for positions on the Mayoral Committee but this time they wanted Gayton Mackenzie as mayor and then Kenneth Kunene, both with ghastly public reputations, when Mackenzie withdrew. Knowing that the DA refused to countenance such a partnership with a totally unreliable party, the PA played ASA for fools, got them to agree to put up a candidate against the DA, and then proceeded to vote, not for the ASA man, but to support the ANC/EFF coalition. The ASA candidate came third, after the DA, which came second. Beaumont then claimed some sort of coalition victory; I wonder whether Herman Mashaba understands that Beaumont is bad news for coalition politics and for ASA in that his sole motivation appears to be to attack and undermine the DA at every turn.
All of this would be sufficient drama for this city but now one hears that serious allegations have been made by Dr Mpho Phalatse of the DA saying Mayor Gwamanda has scammed thousands of people through their investments in his funeral and investment vehicle, iThemba Lama Afrika. It is alleged that investors were left out to dry when the time came to claim their benefits. The DA has given him an ultimatum to explain all of this or to face a police investigation.
If any of this proves to be true, Lesufi and Mbalula will again have egg all over their faces, as they did when their mayoral puppet in Tshwane turned out to be an unrehabilitated insolvent, now facing criminal charges. Imagine these two having control of the governing party in South Africa. A sad day indeed for the ANC and a forerunner of what could happen at national level with an ANC/EFF coalition.
Will Johannesburg have another new mayor in a week or two? Mpho Phalatse is the stand-out candidate.
Douglas Gibson is a former opposition chief whip and former ambassador to Thailand. His email is email@example.com
This article first appeared in The Star