Picture: SIMPHIWE NKWALI
Picture: SIMPHIWE NKWALI

An ANC-led municipality elected an opposition councillor as its speaker on Monday afternoon.

The DA's Eric Motloung received 18 votes against 13 for the ANC's Tseki Tseki. The ANC holds 25 of the 39 seats, the DA holds  eight, the EFF three, and the Freedom Front Plus one. There are two independent councillors.

ANC infighting was blamed for the result.

The Dihlabeng local municipality serves the communities of Paul Roux, Clarens, Rosendal and Fouriesburg with Bethlehem as its administrative and political centre. It has been without a speaker since the death of ANC member David Lengoabala in September.

Monday's meeting was the council's third attempt to elect a speaker. The first meeting earlier in November had to adjourn when gas was released in the venue, choking councillors and halting proceedings.

The second attempt was also abandoned as the acting municipal manager was allegedly held hostage and couldn't, in the absence of a speaker, preside over the proceedings.

Tseki was nominated by the Free State ANC's provincial executive committee, insiders said. But there was a faction of the party that did not support his nomination.

Free State ANC spokesperson Thabo Meeko had not responded to questions on Monday.

“We were literally very shocked when the secret ballot was done and when the acting municipal manager announced the votes,” Motloung said.

“I feel like a Muslim in a Christian party. I was sitting there really shocked of the outcome but I remember the oath of office that I took that I will protect the constitution of this country and the laws of the land,” said 38-year-old Motloung.

“It proves the ANC would choose a DA candidate because our track record speaks for itself. We pride ourselves in accountability and service delivery where we govern,” he said.

DA provincial leader Roy Jankielsohn said it came as no great surprise to the DA that the internal warfare within the ANC has produced the DA’s first speaker in the Dihlabeng municipality.

“It is time that the voters follow the example of disgruntled ANC councillors and support the DA as the only viable alternative in the Free State.

He described the development as a decisive moment in the politics of the province that could signify a significant tipping point in the political environment in the Free State.

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