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Floor-crossing creates uncertainty in Cape Town

Staff Reporter

Uncertainty over the future of Cape Town's coalition government continued on Sunday as the newly formed National People's Party claimed to have secured the allegiance of 10 councillors. The coalition, led by the Democratic Alliance, holds power by a majority of 20 in the 210-seat council.

Uncertainty over the future of Cape Town’s coalition government continued on Sunday as the newly formed National People’s Party (NPP) claimed to have secured the allegiance of 10 councillors.

The coalition, led by the Democratic Alliance (DA), holds power by a majority of 20 in the 210-seat council, the only metro in the country not controlled by the African National Congress (ANC).

The DA strengthened its own position as a party on the council over the weekend, but only at the expense of its coalition partners.

NPP chief executive Faried Stemmet told a media briefing on Sunday afternoon that most of the 10 councillors were from the Independent Democrats (ID). He declined to release their names, saying this could put them in jeopardy, but added the party would identify them on September 15 at the close of the floor-crossing window.

The party said that in addition to the 10, it was negotiating with members of the DA and ANC on the council in a bid to secure the 10%-per-party threshold required by the floor-crossing legislation before they, too, could defect.

“At this stage we cannot become a kingmaker with those 10 seats,” said NPP leader David Sasman, himself a former ID councillor. “We do have more names, we have another 10; in fact, I think at this

stage it will be 15.” Cape Town would be “the ultimate prize”, he said.

NPP backer Badhi Chaaban, who currently represents the African Muslim Party on the council, has vowed to topple mayor Helen Zille.

One complication that has yet to be resolved is that posed by defectors who signed up with the NPP, but then changed their minds before the Friday midnight start of the window.

According to ID leader Patricia de Lille, there are at least two ID councillors in that position.

The Independent Electoral Commission’s manager in charge of floor-crossing, Michael Hendrickse, said on Sunday afternoon that the commission had not yet decided whether in such a case it would accept the original forms as valid.

At least two councillors have defected to the DA. They are Elizabeth Thompson, the sole representative of the United Independent Front and mayoral committee member for transport, and United Democratic Movement member Nkosinathi Nyameka.

The ID said one of its 22 councillors, Michael Britz, had also crossed to the DA, but Britz could not be reached to confirm this.

There will have to be at least one, and possibly two, other valid ID defections in the council for Britz’s crossing to stand, thanks to the threshold requirement.

De Lille on Sunday confirmed that she had summarily expelled two councillors, Aaron Kallie and Abdulla Omar, only hours ahead of the midnight opening, on information that they were planning to defect to the NPP.

She also confirmed that expelled ID MP Florence Batyi tipped off party officials that Kallie, her lover, intended to cross the floor.

She said those who had left the party had done so for “money and greed”.

“We will leave it up to the electorate to judge them for what they have done,” she said.

The NPP claimed it had secured the allegiance of 66 councillors in the Western Cape, including a clear majority in Kannaland municipality in the Little Karoo. The council was governed by a DA, ID and Icosa coalition.

The ID on Sunday released the names of 11 councillors, from municipalities in six provinces, who had joined it. Among them was the United Democratic Movement’s Free State provincial secretary, Matanzima Mokoena, who is a councillor in the Metsi Maholo municipality.

The DA confirmed that it had axed its deputy leader Ross Henderson—an MPL in the Northern Cape—last week, but said this was because it had become aware of a theft and fraud conviction, and not because of the impending floor-crossing window.—Sapa

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