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Who is the ringmaster?


From my perspective, I don’t think anybody actually knows what is going on - I don’t either.

ATTENTION: The packed gallery in the Northern Cape High Court during yesterdays urgent application to remove the mayor from office. Picture: Danie van der lith

MOST of you have heard the saying “Not my circus …”.

While the city has returned to normalcy – for the next two weeks anyway – it is anything but normal at the Sol Plaatje Municipality.

From my perspective, I don’t think anybody actually knows what is going on – I don’t either.

Let’s rewind a bit and start with the Speaker.

Firstly, who and what is a Speaker. The Local Government Municipal Structures Act provides that each municipal council must have a chairperson who is called the Speaker. The Speaker is elected by the council from among the councillors at the first sitting of the council after the local government elections.

The Speaker acts as a chairperson at the council meetings and ensures the compliance of the council code of conduct rules and orders. He or she also ensures the proper functioning of the legislative side of the council, and is required to be impartial.

The Speaker also ensures community participation in legislative initiatives and should communicate with the public on the performance of the council.

The Speaker has ex officio sitting in all committees of the council, with no voting rights.

Cast your mind back to a couple of months ago. Santa Elizabeth Johnson was the Speaker at Sol Plaatje. She was then summarily given the boot by her very own party. At the council meeting convened the DA as well as Johnson walked out. The remaining ANC councillors then went on to institute a motion of no confidence against her while the Freedom Front, who remained in the meeting, abstained.

At this point the Sol Plaatje Municipality was in a bit of a pickle. They had to get the budget passed. As a result Charles Ngoma was elected as acting Speaker to ensure that the meeting continued and the budget was passed.

Then the proverbial hit the fan and the community was baying for the blood of the municipal manager (Goolam Akharwaray), the chief financial officer (Lydia Mahloko) and the head honcho, Mangaliso Matika.

Obviously trying to keep the peace, Goolam and Lydia were told to pack their bags until an investigation could be completed.

This was not enough, said the people, the big man had to go too. In an imitation of Jacob Gedleyihlekisa Zuma, Matika dug in his heels. If you saw how Zuma acted before he was finally forced out, the situation here is just like a cheap DSTV repeat.

Just like with Zuma, prayer meetings are being held and there are rumours that there is a “hands-off Matika” group mobilising.

Finally the Democratic Alliance and a few ANC councillors who felt they were not bigger than the community decided enough was enough and another special council was held. Then the conundrum. Who would chair the meeting?

Johnson got the call and then before any motions could be passed, another Speaker was elected. Boitumelo Stout was the man to get the meeting of no confidence in Matika going.

Now, the way my mind works, we now have three Speakers – be it acting or not. Is it Johnson, Ngoma or Stout?

Stout obviously thinks it’s him as he is already moving into the Speaker’s office.

Throughout the madness it has only been the community that has suffered. As some reports say members of the community have to boil their eggs on a fire outside while Matika’s get made for him.

I guess I really don’t know much, all I do know is not my circus …