ActionSA leader fumes at DA for ditching power pact
Action SA leader Herman Mashaba yesterday hit out at the DA for labelling him an EFF lackey, a central claim behind its refusal to back him for mayor of SA’s economic hub.
As coalition negotiations with the DA remained on a knife edge yesterday, Mashaba threatened to pull out from talks with the DA in Joburg, Tshwane and Ekurhuleni after the Blues accused him of trying to smuggle the EFF back into the equation to secure the mayorship of Johannesburg.
“I can never be an EFF lackey. I find it difficult and an insult to the people of this county for Helen [Zille] and the DA to bring the EFF into this mix,” Mashaba said.
On Saturday, Zille, the DA federal council chair, said the party would field Dr Mpho Phalatse as its candidate in council today.
The DA has ignored calls by other parties such as the UDM and Freedom Front Plus that Mashaba be fielded in Joburg in exchange for the backing of ActionSA, which has 44 seats in Joburg and 19 in Tshwane, where the DA is short of numbers to secure a clear majority.
DA leader John Steenhuisen has on numerous occasions stated that the 2016 coalition governments in two Gauteng metros ended up with an EFF mayor in Mashaba.
A fuming Mashaba, however, blasted the DA and Zille in particular, accusing her of lying. “I am not doing any bidding for the EFF, but if that is their view, then I am happy to live with that title. Helen Zille is a habitual liar. She forgets that she was not alone in that meeting,” Mashaba said.
He said the EFF was never discussed in any of their coalition meetings. “Obviously if you look at it in context, the reason the DA hates me is because of my views on pro-poor programmes and the DA did not want to approve them – and they called them EFF policies. If they call them EFF policies, I am actually proud about that and I am not apologising,” Mashaba said.
The DA, he said, wanted to single-handedly control which programmes he prioritised at the helm of the city, which he was not prepared to do.
“This whole thing of working with the DA is really getting me worried. I am not going to be the mayor of grass cutting in the suburbs. When I was a mayor, every time we brought in budget towards poor communities, they said I was influenced by the EFF. How does providing services to the poor make me an EFF person?”
Meetings have been planned between different parties aimed at ironing out coalition agreements in the hung metros, including Nelson Mandela Bay in the Eastern Cape.
Freedom Front Plus head of elections Wouter Wessels said though it understood the DA’s stance, it was still supporting Mashaba as Joburg’s mayoral candidate to “keep the ANC out of power”.
Wessels said the DA had stated in meetings that it did not want a situation similar to the 2016 coalition arrangements in Tshwane and Joburg where the support of the EFF was required for them to govern.
“We think if it’s possible to get a metro out of the ANC’s hands, let’s do so, hence as the Freedom Front Plus we will support the ActionSA candidate, which might have the support of the EFF though we don’t know for sure,” Wessels said.
His party felt that the DA’s stance “did not make sense because it won’t have the numbers” and this might assist the ANC to take Joburg.
Wessels said it decided that what’s happening would not affect their agreement with the DA in Tshwane but it was unsure of the stance of other partners, including ActionSA.
The Joburg council will today hold its first meeting to elect a new mayor, speaker and chief whip, with the ANC, DA and ActionSA expected to field their own candidates.
Yesterday, the ANC was holding its national executive committee meeting where, among others, it discussed its mayoral candidate for the metro, with regional treasurer Mpho Moerane, acting chairperson Eunice Mgcina and regional secretary Dada Morero put forward as nominees.
Political analyst Dr Ralph Mathekga said he found the DA’s stance on Joburg surprising. “I’m quite surprised and for me this speaks of political immaturity. If the DA has resigned itself to be a party that targets the minority in the country, that pushes it to minority coalitions, so I’m surprised by their false sense of confidence,” Mathekga said.
Councils in the country have until tomorrow to meet to elect mayors and speakers.