The municipal council took a strong stance against racism by voting in favour of having Cllr Chris Roberts removed from the legislature.
The Council of the Nelson Mandela Bay municipality took a strong stance against racism at its first meeting for the year strategically held at the Motherwell Indoor Sports Centre on 28 January 2016.
Following an exhaustive internal investigation led by Speaker of Council, Cllr Maria Hermans, a guilty verdict was reached, condemning a statement made by Democratic Alliance Ward Councillor Chris Roberts during a Council Meeting last year as racist. Roberts referred to UDM leader Mongameli Bobani as “bobejaan” (Afrikaans for baboon).
Following the judgement, veteran ANC Councillor Fikile Desi emotionally proposed a motion that Roberts should not be allowed to serve as a public representative in council anymore by saying: “I propose on behalf of the ANC that Roberts must be permanently removed from Council. We cannot sit in the same venue as a person that calls us baboons”.
The motion was supported by all other opposition parties with the exception of the DA. A subsequent vote count in the local legislature revealed 69 vote for the motion and 42 against it. Eastern Cape MEC for Local Government and Traditional Affairs Fikile Xasa will now take the council decision under advisement and make a final decision.
Chief Whip of Council, Cllr Litho Suka, said: “When one of us is called a baboon we also feel the pain that is why we have decided to wear black as ANC councillors. We do so as a symbol of protest against the humiliation the black people suffer at the hands of these… racists.
“As the ANC we are determined to fight the scourge of racism with the same determination and tenacity with which we fought and crushed the Apartheid regime.”
All ANC councillors arrived at the meeting donning black to make a statement against racism at a meeting held in a community facility as part of the mayoral directive that meetings should be held closer to the people.
Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality Executive Mayor Dr Danny Jordaan struck a reconciliatory tone when he addressed the meeting on the same subject.
“I have noted the debate that took place earlier on racism. I want to pledge on my own behalf and on behalf of the Mayoral Committee that we will do everything possible to lead by example to build social cohesion and fight racism. Racism is an abomination which has no place in our democratic society,” Mayor Jordaan said.
Roberts was fined R10 000.00 by the DA and also ordered to step down as party whip in the Nelson Mandela Bay caucus and was precluded from holding any leadership positions in the caucus.
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