Monday, January 24, 2022
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Coalition crisis in the opposition to favour ANC

The ANC could be the major beneficiary after opposition coalition talks to block it from power in three of the country’s metropolitan municipalities collapsed spectacularly yesterday.

Whereas the governing party has played its cards close to its chest this week, the opposition parties have been loud in their communications, including unprecedented public bickering on social media that may result in their not being able to take control of the Johannesburg and Tshwane metros, as initially envisaged at their meeting on Friday.

City Press understands that, even in the Nelson Mandela Bay metro, none of the parties has been able to reach an agreement on working together, contrary to an earlier statement that the DA had formed a coalition with smaller parties. However, the negotiations are ongoing.

On Friday night, ActionSA issued a “joint statement” on behalf of five other smaller parties (including the DA), announcing a possible deal in Tshwane and Johannesburg.

Following the coalition talks between the DA, the Freedom Front Plus, ActionSA, the African Christian Democratic Party and the United Democratic Front yesterday, the parties concluded that the DA should head a coalition of opposition parties to govern Tshwane, while ActionSA should do the same thing in Johannesburg.

However, by yesterday morning, the DA had backed out of the Johannesburg deal, leaving the others out in the cold. Now the other opposition parties have warned that they might not support it in Tshwane.

The Johannesburg leg of the deal was to help put ActionSA in power in the city, but the DA believes that plan cannot come to fruition in Johannesburg without the EFF, which it refuses to be associated with.

ELECTION RERUN ON THE CARDS

DA leader John Steenhuisen told City Press that there was no possibility of the party backtracking on its commitment not to work with the EFF. He said the DA would be more comfortable on the opposition benches than in an unstable coalition.

“The other parties are more than welcome to form their own coalitions. I have no problem with that. The DA will form coalition governments where it can. It’s not possible in Johannesburg, but it is in Tshwane,” said Steenhuisen.

That is why the DA wants to go ahead with nominating Mpho Phalatse as its mayoral candidate at the City of Johannesburg council meeting that is due to take place tomorrow.

The ANC will also present its own candidate, while ActionSA will present its president, Herman Mashaba, as its choice. None of them has the requisite numbers to reach 136 seats to constitute majority government, leading to a possible impasse and opening up the possibility of an election rerun in the city if no solution is found soon.

A rerun would greatly favour the ANC, which would focus all its resources on the cities in question. Instead of financial and logistical resources being spread thin nationally, it would concentrate them in the affected areas.

The national leadership – which is much more recognisable in communities – would also be able to home in on the those areas and visit more constituencies.

LACK OF RESPECT AND LACK OF TRUST

Reverend Kenneth Meshoe, leader of the African Christian Democratic Party – which is a member of the opposition coalition group – told City Press that his party felt betrayed and offended by the DA.

He said: It’s a major disappointment and this shows that the DA has little respect for other political party leaders.

Meshoe said he would speak to other multiparty group leaders to discuss whether they should continue honouring their commitment to support DA mayoral candidate in Tshwane, Randall Williams, or vote separately for their personal choice.

“When it comes to trust, many will no longer trust the DA. When we met on Monday, I raised a concern and proposed three things, starting with respect and transparency. Not that we were aiming to control anybody, but I wanted everybody to be open. I also proposed that we be honest with each other, but the DA did not acknowledge this,” said Meshoe.

He said the DA told his party that it would consult its federal council about the negotiations, and promised to come back to it.

“However, instead of coming back to us, it made an announcement without consulting us,” said Meshoe.

THE ANC

Meanwhile, the ANC national executive committee is meeting today to receive a report-back from the party’s coalition negotiation team, led by the party’s treasurer-general, Paul Mashatile, and deputy secretary-general Jessie Duarte.

In a short video statement Duarte released on Friday night, the party sought to redirect the narrative away from power-sharing to cooperation in the interests of service delivery.

“The elections are over and it’s time to roll up our sleeves and go to work. The people of South Africa expect us deliver services and make sure that we plan properly and implement those plans in good time. It’s vitally important that councillors work together, irrespective of which political party they come from,” she said.

The collapse of the opposition pact in Tshwane just hours after it was made public appeared to give the ANC a shot in the arm.

The governing party fancied its chances of being a central player in the capital city of Tshwane on the basis that the metro was bankrupt and any party taking it over would have to rely on provincial and national government grants to address service delivery issues such as the lack of water in Hammanskraal, outside Pretoria.

The situation provided grounds for the ANC, which ran both provincial and national government, to be a key part of the governing coalition, according to a senior party leader.

Duarte said it was important to begin creating an atmosphere of collegiate behaviour in municipalities.She declared: We urge you now to go to work. The election’s over and it’s time for us to drive the promises we made in our manifesto.

In Ekurhuleni, the ANC has again tied down the coalition partnerships it has formed since 2016 and could see the return of mayor Mzwandile Masina.

City Press has been reliably informed that Masina and regional secretary TK Ncinza took direct control of negotiations, unlike in other metros, where national and provincial leaders took the lead.

This enabled them to use personal relationships with the previous coalition partners to ensure smooth negotiations.

‘DA MUST DITCH ITS WHITE ARROGANCE’

EFF leader Julius Malema yesterday said that his party would not be entering into any coalitions.

Malema was speaking at the party’s Siyabonga rally in Tembisa on the East Rand, which was attended by thousands of supporters.

“The EFF isn’t part of any coalition – we’re on our own. White people have made it clear that they don’t want the EFF because they know it will never succumb to or be controlled by them,” he said, referring to the DA’s firm rejection of the party.

The red berets had been in talks with the ANC, but could not come to a mutually beneficial agreement.

Malema said the main reason the talks with the ANC had failed was that the governing party would not agree to key EFF principles.

These included allowing clinics to operate for 24 hours, free sanitary towels for all women in poor communities and ensuring that section 25 of the Constitution is amended to allow land expropriation without compensation.

Malema said: We want the municipality per se. We want the land.

He explained that those in his party who had criticised the leadership should understand that there was nothing sinister about talking to opposition parties to advance the EFF’s own agenda.

He also criticised the DA for deciding to go solo in Johannesburg, saying that all smaller parties in council should be uniting to keep the ANC out.

“The DA must put aside its white arrogance and share positions,” he said.

Malema also criticised the IFP for its decision to work with the ANC, saying it was an intentional move by both parties because they were threatened by the EFF.

The partnership between the two parties will see them have a monopoly in KwaZulu-Natal, as they share municipalities in the province between them.

The DA has control of one municipality in the province. The EFF has grown its support in KwaZulu-Natal, where the IFP has been ousted from the three most supported parties in the province.

“The IFP and the ANC have united against the EFF. They say we’re taking from their constituency. The EFF is indeed powerful. It’s shaking old political organisations,” said Malema.THE SITUATION IN OTHER MAJOR CITIES

  • Nelson Mandela Bay metro

Negotiations are ongoing among the parties, and an earlier announcement that the DA would constitute a government with smaller parties seems to have been premature.

  • Mangaung

The ANC is primed to take over.

  • eThekwini

The ANC is confident of taking eThekwini with the support of smaller parties, especially after its deal with the IFP.

  • Cape Town

The DA won outright.

  • Buffalo City

The ANC won outright.

–CityPress

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