Days after the ANC snatched Gauteng’s wealthiest metro, Johannesburg, from the cross-party coalition government, it looks like Ekurhuleni could be next. Daily Maverick understands that the ruling party has recently engaged in serious discussions with the EFF on this subject.
The Ekurhuleni coalition, made up of the DA, ActionSA, People’s Congress, Freedom Front Plus, African Christian Democratic Party and Inkatha Freedom Party, has just 94 seats.
A marriage between the ANC and the EFF would see a strong partnership with a total of 117 seats.
The ANC chief whip in Ekurhuleni, Jongizizwe Dlabathi, confirmed that the ruling party had engaged in talks with a political party, which he would not name. He says they had agreed that the coalition was not keeping its promises.
The EFF is the kingmaker as it has a significant number of council seats and if it strikes a deal, the ANC could easily take control of the city.
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“We are in talks with a certain political party to try to find ourselves as we all agree that the DA-led minority coalition is struggling to govern and more so there is serious dissatisfaction with their delivery in the black townships where the majority reside. They only focus on white suburban areas…there is great concern over their governance and the neglect of the townships.
“We then say that we must restore the credibility of the city and we all agree that it is not ideal to have a minority governing over the majority; so we agree that something has to happen, and the talks are ongoing,” Dlabathi said. Daily Maverick.
It comes after the ousting of Mpho Phalatse from the DA as executive mayor of Joburg through a motion of no confidence. Phalatse, however, does not take it lying down – she has filed documents to the Johannesburg High Court in a bid to regain his post.
Learn more in Daily Maverick: “Not without a fight – ousted Mpho Phalatse turns to court to win back Joburg mayor seat”
In the newspapers, she points to irregularities with the programming meeting that approved the motion against her, the September 30 council meeting and the election of Dada Morero from the ANC as the new mayor.
Discussions to refine
Speaking to Ekurhuleni, Dlabathi said the ruling party was not desperate for positions as it reiterated the importance of fine-tuning talks before embarking on a sweeping decision.
Dlabathi said while both sides agreed on the need to “take back the municipality”, it was important to agree on matters of principle that would guide their partnership.
“But at least what is evident is that the DA-led coalition is in trouble. Service delivery kind of takes on a racial twist… the townships are left behind under their watch,” Dlabathi said.
The EFF could not be reached for comment at the time of publication.
Last month, in a meeting with News24EFF leader Julius Malema said if his party was forced to choose between the ANC and the DA before the 2024 elections, he would choose the former.
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“The ANC in 2024 needs a hard left coalition partner who will force its hand and say [that] if you don’t push [in] in that direction you will probably have John Steenhuisen as president, the same way you have these mayors in Johannesburg, Ekurhuleni and Tshwane,” Malema said.
The possible takeover of the ANC was predicted on Monday by ActionSA Gauteng leader Bongani Baloyi after his party pulled out of Joburg’s coalition.
Baloyi said his party would take a break with the DA in Joburg, but would continue coalitions with the DA in Tshwane and Ekurhuleni.
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However, he said the ANC would likely take over the Ekurhuleni metro, adding that the coalition only served as a minority government.
“We believe [Ekurhuleni] is the next municipality they are going to take over. We will leave it to the senior coalition party to advise us on how to retain Ekurhuleni. In reality, our numbers together in Ekurhuleni mean nothing.
“We prepared our guys; at least last weekend I prepared our structures in Ekurhuleni…so they must not be surprised,” Baloyi said.
FF Plus caucus leader Jennifer Glover said she was unimpressed with the developments.
“I think our coalition in Ekurhuleni is still quite stable. Even though we are a minority coalition, we understand what happened in Joburg, but we also take into account that the dynamics in the different metros are different. At this point, the coalition partners in Ekurhuleni are working very well together.
“We are definitely looking forward, not backward. When something comes up, we’ll obviously deal with it when it does, but at this point there’s no sign of the coalition ending.
Demonstrations in Tembisa
Ekurhuleni Mayor Tania Campbell (DA) came under fire in August after demonstrations in Tembisa in which four people died. The protests centered on soaring electricity prices and changes to the supply of free basic electricity.
Dlabathi said Campbell failed to deliver on his promise to restore free basic electricity to residents. He also accused her of interfering with matters outside of governance, including the realignment of portfolios. These were among the reasons why the ANC and the party he would not name were of the view that Campbell was ‘not fit for purpose’.
Daily MaverickElection analyst Wayne Sussman expressed similar sentiments that Ekurhuleni Metro is likely to undergo a governance change.
“Maybe the EFF doesn’t want to do this all at once, because then they are associated as junior partners of the ANC, whereas the EFF thrives on unpredictability and therefore becomes very predictable …”
Sussman said things were more complicated in the Tshwane coalition because it was relatively stable and the coalition depended on EFF support. DM