Democratic Alliance leader Mmusi Maimane has expressed his confidence that the party’s coalitions and partnerships in the Johannesburg, Tshwane and Nelson Mandela Bay municipalities are “stable and functional”. In particular, Maimane and his party’s executive management said the DA looks forward to continuing its working partnership with the Economic Freedom Fighters, in order to keep the ANC out of government, “and to keep making progress in our country’s major cities”. The editor of the SA Local Government Briefing reports:
In a statement after a meeting of the DA’s federal council, Maimane said the party had considered “the existing coalitions and working partnerships with other political parties, which are vital to the performance and functioning of DA-led cities across the country. We are pleased to report back that our coalitions and partnerships are stable and functional.
“In Nelson Mandela Bay, the coalition is stable, and all coalition partners are back on board in bringing change to the city. The government and council are hard at work to realise our manifesto of creating jobs, cutting corruption, and delivering quality services to the residents of the city.
“In Tshwane and Johannesburg, our working partnership with the EFF is stable, and the EFF are back in council, and supporting our pro-poor agenda in those governments. We look forward to continuing our working partnership with the EFF, in order to keep the ANC out of government, and to keep making progress in our country’s major cities.
“As I’ve said before, coalitions are a lot like marriage. They are far from perfect, take a lot of hard work, and often hit stumbling blocks due to miscommunication. But they are vital in bringing about change, and removing the ANC from governance across the country. As such, we continue to work with our partners across the board to ensure that the project of a post-ANC South Africa, that works for all, continues to succeed.”
United Democratic Movement president Bantu Holomisa appeared to endorse Maimane’s comment, saying it was “broadly correct. We passed the budget and officials are implementing it. The minor hiccough between the DA and expelling the UDM deputy mayor is under review by the courts, but the coalition is continuing.”
But EFF spokesman Mbuyiseni Ndlozi was more guarded in his response: “The DA must never confuse our fight for the elimination of the kleptocratic ANC to mean we embrace their economic liberalism and Eurocentrism. We have no intentions, now and in the future, of being in any coalition with them without a radical acceptance of the socialist and pan-Africanist socio-economic agenda of the EFF, whose point of departure is land expropriation.”
DA-led coalition wins by one vote in Nelson Mandela Bay
Despite Maimane’s confident assertion, Holomisa wrote an open letter to him on 18 October, again questioning the way in which the DA-led coalition in Nelson Mandela Bay had handled the removal of the UDM’s Mongameli Bobani as deputy mayor after a motion of no confidence on 24 August, and demanding that he be reinstated.
Holomisa questioned the procedure followed at the council meeting at which Bobani was ousted: “The DA professes to be proponents of democracy, but we fail to understand how what happened on that fateful day, could be considered democracy. It appears as if this matter was just steamrolled through council to suit a hidden agenda. We now know what that agenda had been, after we heard why the Patriotic Alliance withdrew from your separate and bilateral ‘coalition agreement’.”
Holomisa then asked Maimane if the ousting was perhaps a mistake on the DA’s part and whether he was prepared to rectify the mistake by immediately reinstating Bobani as deputy mayor. On the following day, the UDM and Patriotic Alliance voted against the DA-led coalition during a council meeting.
With the UDM and the PA voting with the opposition ANC, the DA coalition’s share of the council’s votes was reduced to 59 of the total of 120.
The meeting started with a dispute over the absence from the agenda of the election of a new deputy mayor to replace Bobani. Trollip said his coalition was not ready to proceed with the matter as it was still before the High Court, where Bobani has applied for an order declaring his removal from office to have been unlawful. He had asked the court to reinstate him.
Bobani insisted he was still the deputy mayor and threatened to collapse the meeting unless he was treated as such.
He said it was clear that Trollip did not want him in the coalition: “You can see Trollip doesn’t want me to be in the coalition. The fact that he put mayoral committee member Siyasanga Sijadu in my seat makes it clear. Trollip hates me so much. He doesn’t even want me to sit next to him, in my seat. I am still the executive deputy mayor until the courts decide otherwise. He has thrown me out of the coalition. What must I do? He doesn’t want me.”
The vote on an item relating to the appointment of a coordinator for an international competition in Port Elizabeth next year tied at 59 votes by DA coalition and 59 votes for the opposition, led by the ANC and supported by the UDM, AIC, PA and the EFF.
The motion was passed with the casting vote of Speaker Jonathan Lewack, but the opposition would have secured a majority, had two ANC councillors not been on sick leave.
Alderman Clive Keegan is editor of the SA Local Government Briefing