Telling empowering stories, South Africans want to hear

Monday, 20 November 2023 11:54

AIC Margaret Arnolds elected as the new Joburg Council speaker.

By Lehlohonolo Lehana.

The City of Johannesburg council has elected African Independent Congress (AIC) councillor Margaret Arnolds as the new council speaker on Monday morning following Collen Makhubele's expulsion from the Congress of the People.

Arnolds was elected unopposed.

Makhubele was expelled from COPE after she joined and was elected leader of the newly formed alliance, the South African Rainbow Alliance (SARA), without the party's permission.

Her removal came hot on the heels of a ruling by the High Court in Johannesburg, which nullified the appointment of City Manager Floyd Brink.

Briefing the media last week, Makhubele said she would not be contesting her expulsion.

"They fired me because I dared to believe that I can lead, and I can lead SARA and the nation of South Africa…Frankly, they fired me because they could, and they had the power to. These are men, and it's a culture within our nation.

"I also want to thank the City of Johannesburg for allowing me to serve you. My love for you will only continue as SARA strengthens to serve you better beyond 2024."

According to the ANC/EFF/PA-led coalition government, the position of speaker is allocated to a minority bloc and it resolved the vacancy should be filled by Arnolds. 

She has served the executive as a former MMC and leaders the minority parties bloc. 

Arnolds expressed her eagerness for the possible new role, saying this would demonstrate her party's readiness to govern.

"Occupying the position of speaker in council would demonstrate that the AIC is able to govern and that we have credible people. Despite being a small party, we are a party with influence. We have been leading the minority party block since inception, rallying the smaller parties together was my brainchild," she said.

After her election, She delivered her maiden speech as the new Joburg speaker, saying she was "humbled" by her election.

"Councillors of the City of Joburg, I thank you for entrusting me with this position," she said.

"The speaker of council is among other responsible for safeguarding the independence of council and maintaining the authority thereof and to ensure that the standing orders of council are observed."

It is indeed possible to achieve such working together with all 217 councillors, political party leaders and whips. It is incumbent on all of us to ensure that the decorum of council is maintain collectively, not only by one or two.

"This is a platform we use to express the views of our constituencies and the general residents of the City of Johannesburg. This is a space we share ideas of how to best service our residents, therefore, we need to protect and use this space fruitfully to the benefit of our residents," the AIC councillor added.

The DA boycotted the extraordinary council sitting which elected Arnolds, calling it a waste of taxpayer money. It criticised the revolving doors of mayors and speakers, calling for a complete dissolution of council and fresh elections.

"The DA will need 180 votes to do that, which I don't think that they currently have. The GLU (Government of Local Unity) has the majority of votes," said Arnolds.