The City of Johannesburg Council Speaker Vasco Da Gama has confirmed that a new mayor will be elected on Wednesday.

Da Gama says he is happy with the legal opinion he has sort and that other Councillors are also satisfied.

He postponed last week’s sitting, citing the need to seek legal opinion on the interpretation of council rules on what constitute a majority in council.

The council was scheduled to elect a new mayor to replace Herman Mashaba who resigned citing strained relationship with the Democratic Alliance (DA) leadership.

Da Gama insists that his reasons for postponing the council meeting last week was to get clarity on the ambiguous and confusing Municipal Structural Act.

“There were a lot of questions raised from the different political parties, at this stage I went for a five minute break to consult with legal and they said yes the structure is ambiguous and therefore you need a completely independent legal opinion.”

Earlier, Gauteng Premier David Makhura warned the City of Johannesburg that should the election of Mayor not take place on Wednesday, the provincial government will intervene decisively.

Meanwhile, Gauteng Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs and Human Settlement MEC, Lebohang Maile wrote a letter strongly advising Da Gama to convene a meeting with chief whips of all the parties before council meeting on Wednesday.

“Because the excuse that there was no proper legal interpretation of a majority is an excuse, it’s convenient and it’s tantamount to the subverting democracy and we view this in a very serious light that is why as the provincial government on Thursday we will announce further practical measures that we will be taking in both Tshwane and Johannesburg.”

However, Da Gama says he will not be bullied. “I just think it is disrespect completely. I’ve been in local government for more than 20 years.  I know what is going on around me and for him to try his bullying tactics, and it’s simply not going to work. I will respond to him legally, make sure my response is legally accepted but I don’t take light that I’m being bullied.”

Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) Gauteng Chairperson and member of the provincial legislature, Mandisa Mashego says there are other municipalities in the province more deserving of Maile’s attention.

“The issue with MEC Maile and the ANC in general is that there are more stark problems and very urgent problems in local municipality and districts that they are completely ignoring. Westrand District couldn’t pay salaries, Emfuleni, Merafong, and Rand West Municipality particularly and to some extent Lesedi they’ve been in dire straits for a long time. I would urge the MEC for Cogta to focus on those municipalities and stop throwing a blind eye to their problems.”

The African National Congress (ANC) in Gauteng says it is confident and optimistic about Wednesday’s council meeting.

The party’s candidate for mayor, Geoff Makhubo has criticised the Speaker for what he calls a waste of public resources for outsourcing the legal opinion.

“The ANC is very aware that the Speaker and the city have known since last week what 50% plus one means.  I think we wasted money. Our sources tell us that they spent R300 000 in getting that opinion that they know anyway. I think it was a waste of public resources and it’s unfortunate that to hang on to power someone has to pay R300 000 to confirm what we know, what they know surely they could’ve gotten that advice for free. The ANC is optimistic, the ANC is confident.” -Reporting by Nomalizo Mandela and Natasha Phiri    

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