With the ANC’s overtures being rejected by major parties, the EFF is using its status to cut up deals that will give it outsized power in municipalities.
The EFF has followed up its stated ambitions of governing its first municipality ever (or even more than one) with formal proposals to possible coalition partners.
The country’s third-largest political party, whose core ideology is socialism, is lobbying the governing ANC in Gauteng and newcomer ActionSA to enter into a power-sharing deal that would see the ANC retain the Ekurhuleni metro, but cede control of Tshwane to the EFF and Johannesburg to former mayor Herman Mashaba’s ActionSA.
City Press heard that the negotiations late last Saturday formed part of the discussions at the extended ANC national executive committee (NEC) meeting the following day, but the party’s top brass shot the idea down.
GAUTENG DOWN TO THE WIRE
It is understood that the Gauteng ANC bloc was most vocal in rejecting the report presented by the ANC national negotiation team, led by treasurer-general Paul Mashatile and deputy secretary-general Jessie Duarte.
“The negotiations were done by the national office and when they presented the EFF’s proposal, the NEC rejected it,” said an ANC NEC member.
The insider reiterated the organisation’s position of not entering coalitions at any cost, simply to retain power.
Another source explained that the red berets had in the past five years ensured that the position of municipal manager and two other administrative posts were handed to individuals who were affiliated with the party – and that they would probably partner with the ANC to ensure that this agreement continued.
Once the ANC manages to finalise its agreement with the red berets, it will need to look to smaller parties in council to ensure that it has an outright majority.
“The ANC will have to bow to the EFF’s demands because, at this point, it doesn’t stand a chance of retaining the city without the red berets,” said the source.
Speaking in Nkululekweni, Mthatha, yesterday, EFF leader Julius Malema confirmed that coalition talks between his party and others were at an advanced stage.
“We hope that by Monday, at the latest, the negotiations will be done so that there’s clarity. Our people can’t hang around for a long time. Either we’re in or we’re not,” he said.
He was in Mthatha to greet AbaThembu king Buyelekhaya Dalindyebo and present him with a R1.8 million black SUV Mercedes-Benz GLE coupé which he had promised him before the local government election.
MPUMALANGA EFF PLAYS HARDBALL
The EFF’s Mpumalanga structures will only help the ANC govern two of the three hung municipalities if the latter hands over one of the richest municipalities to be led by the party.
The ANC has, for the first time ever, failed to win three municipalities outright: Steve Tshwete in Middelburg, Govan Mbeki in Secunda and Lekwa in Standerton.
It must therefore try to form coalitions with other parties to continue governing these areas.
Mpumalanga EFF chairperson Collen Sedibe said the ANC had had to give his party the Govan Mbeki municipality in order to get the votes to elect its own mayors in Steve Tshwete and Lekwa. The ANC got 41.08% of the votes in Govan Mbeki, 36.85% in Steve Tshwete and 42.03% in Lekwa.
The EFF got 19.88% of the votes in Govan Mbeki – less than the DA, which got 26.57%. Sedibe said that the ANC had approached the EFF on Wednesday this week and had put the condition before it to consider.
“We want one municipality to govern, which is Govan Mbeki, [so that we] have a reference point of how the EFF can govern. It [the ANC] can play an oversight role. We can then help it in governing the Lekwa and Steve Tshwete municipalities, where we’ll be happy to be on the opposition benches. If it refuses to give us Govan Mbeki, it will lose all three municipalities.”
He said the DA had not approached the EFF, but small civic organisations had.
Mpumalanga DA leader Jane Sithole said her party would not enter any coalition with either the ANC or the EFF, but would prefer voting with opposition parties.
The Lekwa Community Forum, which surprised many by surpassing both the EFF (9.18%) and the DA (13.36%) with 19.43% of the votes, said it would not form a coalition with the ANC “to be bullied or swallowed”.
The forum’s leader, Louis Thabethe, said its preconditions for any coalitions were clean governance and service delivery to areas that had been neglected for many years.
He said: Our wish is that the ANC should stand aside and allow other parties to fix Lekwa municipality.
DEAL BREAKER FOR ACTIONSA
In Limpopo, ANC insiders said the EFF was likely to partner with the party in Modimolle-Mookgophong.
Malema told the media ahead of the announcement of the final election results that the EFF was eager to take power, unlike the last 2016 municipal elections, when its headquarters issued an announcement that its councillors would remain in opposition even in municipalities like Rustenburg, where the opportunity to govern existed.
The party will undergo the first real test of its policies if other parties afford it an opportunity to govern.
ActionSA’s John Moodey said yesterday that cadre deployment was the deal-breaker in the EFF’s power-sharing proposal. ActionSA was willing to dump the EFF if it insisted on the ANC as a necessary coalition partner.
SMALL PARTIES IN NW WARM TO ANC
Hlomani Chauke, ANC provincial interim committee coordinator in North West, said the national office was leading negotiations, but it was clear that smaller parties and independent candidates were willing to work with the ANC.
He mentioned new party Agang in Rustenburg as a possible partner, depending on negotiations. “At JB Marks in Potchefstroom, we’re looking at working with the Patriotic Alliance. Our options are still open to other parties like the EFF.
In Lekwa-Teemane in Bloemhof, we’re looking at working with the [civic political party] Forum 4 Service Delivery. It all depends on negotiations,” said Chauke.
He added that it would be a good principle for the ANC to retain the mayoral seat, especially because the party needed one seat to form a government in Lekwa-Teemane and JB Marks.
KZN ANC NEEDS EFF, NOT EXTREME DEMANDS
According to sources in KwaZulu-Natal, the ANC desperately needs the EFF’s support in Msunduzi and eThekwini, where the governing party failed to secure enough seats to govern on its own.
However, an ANC provincial executive committee member said: The problem is that the EFF’s demands are extreme and most of them were rejected at the NEC meeting we had last week because of the way they were structured.
“We have to be wise in negotiating.”
The committee member also said that getting the IFP to work with the ANC would be beneficial, but the problem was that the ANC already had a working relationship with the National Freedom Party – which had stated clearly that it could not work with the IFP.
The National Freedom Party is hoping to use the coalition talks to ascend to power in Paulpietersburg’s eDumbe Municipality, where it currently has superior numbers, but not enough to allow it to govern on its own.
National Freedom Party secretary-general Canaan Mdletshe told City Press that his party was on the verge of wrapping up its coalition talks. “We began our talks last Friday and I can confirm that we’ve made a lot of progress.
“The principle was that we would be assisting our partners in municipalities where they need our support to govern. In return, they’ll assist us in governing in municipalities where we received the biggest share of votes. However, I can tell you that we can’t work with the IFP,” he said.
Meanwhile, Al Jama-ah leader Ganief Hendricks met with the ANC coalition committee led by NEC member Jeff Radebe last Saturday, where the two parties agreed to continue their relationship in a number of municipalities.
Al Jama-ah will be meeting with the provincial leadership of KwaZulu-Natal this coming week to discuss their agreement for eThekwini, Umdoni and Harding, where Al Jama-ah is the kingmaker.
“It was a meet-and-greet and request from the ANC that we join it in implementing service delivery programmes throughout the country, where we can. Further, it had no problem with matters relating to our relationship over the past five years,” said Hendricks.
His party’s decision, however, came with conditions based on advancing Muslim rights. The ANC has agreed to work with Al Jama-ah to ensure that it meets the deadline for the Supreme Court of Appeal judgment on the Muslim Marriages Bill.
ANC “UNDERMINED” BUTHELEZI
DA KwaZulu-Natal chairperson Dean Macpherson said his party could not work with the EFF, as they differed fundamentally on certain issues.
He said that, although coalition talks would take place at a national level, as the province, the DA was consulted and gave input into which parties it could work with.
Speaking to City Press, the IFP’s Velenkosini Hlabisa said his party was in coalition talks with the DA, the Abantu Batho Congress and the EFF, and was trying to engage with Al Jama-ah and some smaller parties who were locally based in KwaZulu-Natal in order to get eThekwini.
The IFP was also doing everything possible to get the DA on its side so that an IFP-DA coalition could govern Richards Bay’s uMhlathuze Municipality, where the ANC had 27 seats, the IFP had 23 and the DA had eight.
The IFP had made it clear that it was willing to work with the DA, the EFF and other smaller political parties to run hung municipalities in KwaZulu-Natal. It also recently held talks with ANC leaders in Johannesburg.
A senior IFP leader said: The ANC assured the IFP team that it was willing to look into the IFP’s grievances, including those regarding the persistent undermining of IFP founder Mangosuthu Buthelezi by ANC leaders in KwaZulu-Natal.
However, IFP national spokesperson Mkhuleko Hlengwa said it would be premature to speculate on the coalition talks.
“The IFP negotiation team’s mandate is to engage with other political parties and then present a report to the national executive committee,” he said.