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ANC running after EFF as DA, IFP and GOOD reject coalition talks

  • Talks between the ANC and EFF understood to be at an advanced stage and maybe concluded as soon as Wednesday. 
  • The governing party was forced to turn to the red berets after the DA, the IFP and GOOD all shut the door on coalition talks.
  • The ANC, in turn, said it was willing to listen to anyone who approached the party. 

The ANC, who suffered major losses in the municipal election last week, have had their woes compounded as the DA, IFP and GOOD have all shut them out of coalition talks. 

Sources with intimate knowledge of how the coalition talks were progressing, told News24 that senior ANC stalwarts such as former president Thabo Mbeki, former minister Roelf Meyer, former party deputy secretary-general Cheryl Carolus and Joel Netshitenzhe,  among others, had been roped in to give counsel on whether the party ought to go into coalition with the DA or the EFF. 

But it appeared that the ANC would not have much of a choice in the matter. 

The ANC national executive committee (NEC), that met on Sunday, was initially split along two lines: radical economic transformation (RET) which was in favour of an EFF deal, while the CR17 faction was in support of a DA deal.

This, after 66 municipalities of 213 in the country were left without an outright majority.

“They see an ANC-EFF deal as a major threat for the future of country as it may extend into national government,” said a source with intimate knowledge of what transpired in the meeting. 

The source added that the ANC and DA were initially considering a basket deal in the municipalities where neither had garnered a majority – this would entail splitting up posts in terms of the largest party getting the mayorship, while the other party gets the rest of the major positions. 

A senior NEC member confirmed to News24 that the ANC was keen on getting the DA partnership across the line, but said the stumbling block was DA leader John Steenhuisen, who, unlike the party’s federal chairperson Helen Zille, was not entertaining the thought of going into partnership with their political enemies. 

The DA also had its own meeting of its federal executive on Sunday and News24 was reliably told that the party had decided to shelve the idea of going into partnership with the ANC for, among other reasons, the probable loss of support.

Steenhuisen said:The DA’s DNA is that of being an alternative to the ANC; so going to bed with the ANC would be a seen as a direct violation of those founding principles. The party also considered how it lost so much support after it joined forces with the EFF. Our support base is made up of individuals who do not compromise especially when we get into partnerships with those seen as a direct contrast to what we stand for. Hence, going into partnership with the ANC would have led to a scores of supporters walking out on the party, a scenario we could not afford after our recent poor showing in the 2019 and 2021 elections.

The DA leader also added that the party needed to make a strong statement and rejecting the ANC’s advances gave it a great standing among its constituents. 

Another DA leader added that the party had invested a lot of money, particularly in Johannesburg and Nelson Mandela Bay.slide 1 of 1john steenhuisenDA leader John Steenhuisen.News24 Kayleen Morgan, News24

He said they were unwilling to let go of governance in these metros which could have been on the cards had it gone into coalition with the ANC as they could have been forced to take Nelson Mandela Bay, with the ANC retaining Johannesburg.

The DA and ANC have been scrambling to find coalition partners after Monday’s local government elections left 61 municipalities with no clear winner.

Following a meeting of its Federal Executive on Sunday, the DA announced that it had ruled out going into coalitions with the ANC and EFF. 

During a virtual press briefing, DA leader John Steenhuisen said: “It is not the DA’s role to save the ANC. It’s not what our voters want; it’s not what the DA stands for as a party.”

He added that the DA were the real kingmakers and the alternative to the ANC because of the size of the party and the fact that it managed to retain its position after the municipal elections as the second biggest party in terms of votes. “As the DA, we have recommitted ourselves to further weakening the ANC over the two years ahead of the 2024 elections, but more importantly, we want to bring them below 50% in those elections and to that effect, we will not be entering into any coalition agreements with the EFF, the ANC and any other party that does not subscribe to constitutionalism, the rule of law, a social market economy and a capable state and non-racism. These are non-negotiables for the DA.”

He added that his party had learnt to its detriment what happened when it decided to go into coalition governments with parties that did not have similar values as the DA’s. 

“So we have committed ourselves to be parts of opposition majorities with like-minded partners with the role of keeping the ANC out of power in as many places across South Africa,” said Steenhuisen.

EFF front runners to form coalitions with ANC

As it became clearer on Sunday that the DA would rebuff the ANC’s advances, talks soon focused on the red berets, with an EFF leader telephoning a senior ANC NEC member just before ANC deputy secretary general Jessie Duarte held a media briefing outside the Saint George Hotel in Irene where the NEC meeting was held.

Speaking to News24, a senior NEC member said the only stumbling block from certain sectors within the ANC leadership were some of the demands being made by the EFF, which included that the ANC vote with it on the amendment of Section 25 to allow expropriation of land without compensation. slide 1 of 1EFF leader Julius Malema addresses the media, giviEFF leader Julius Malema addresses the media. Photo by Christopher Moagi.

“The hesitance is that our electorate will see this as the ANC’s policies now being dictated by the EFF. Look at what they did with [former Johannesburg mayor] Herman Mashaba… saying he was an EFF stooge,” said the NEC member. 

Desperate 

Another NEC member said the EFF was aware that the ANC was desperate because of its dismal showing at the polls and negations with any party would mean having to give up more than what the party would have given had it fared better. 

The ANC’s woes were also exacerbated by the fact that the IFP indicated that it would not be going into coalitions with the ANC, particularly in municipalities in KwaZulu-Natal.

The party’s president, Velenkosini Hlabisa, confirmed this during a media briefing on Sunday.

“The ANC has not been honest with us in the past. They have let down people of South Africa and the voters clearly expressed themselves when it comes to the ANC,” said Hlabisa.

Coalition talks were underway for the 21 hung councils in the province.

The IFP had also set up a team that would work on establishing the party’s role in the hung municipalities where it had the highest number of votes.

The party retained 13 municipalities, largely in the northern parts of the province.

GOOD also said its councillors would serve as “constructive oppositions” and would not be joining forces with any party, including the ANC. 

“Our national management committee has considered several approaches to form coalitions with other political parties in these municipalities. We have concluded that the best way to serve our supporters, and all the residents in these towns and cities, would be as a constructive opposition,” said GOOD in a statement.

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