Cape Town’s elusive 106

The Pan-Africanist Congress has scuppered an opposition pact to control Cape Town involving seven smaller opposition parties and the Democratic Alliance — out of frustration over haggling for positions.

On Thursday the DA was ready to table the opposition party deal at its top executive structure and prepare to trade its mayoral candidate Helen Zille for control of the city it lost in the October 2002 defection period. The African Christian Democratic Party was insisting on taking the mayor’s post in return for coalition government.

The DA’s 90 seats in the 210-strong councils were bolstered by 16 from the ACDP-led forum of the seven smaller parties, including the PAC.

The PAC’s decision to pull out of the talks opened a window of opportunity for the African National Congress and Independent Democrats to regain the initiative in deal-making.

The two parties together hold 104 seats, two short of the required 106 majority. By Thursday they had not found the additional two seats they require.

The ANC had made only informal approaches to the forum’s other parties such as the Africa Muslim Party, with three seats, the United Democratic Movement with two and the the United Independent Front and PAC with one each.

PAC president Motsoko Pheko insisted it was correct to withdraw support from both the DA and ANC to force them to focus on delivery. ‘They are talking more about who is going to be mayor, but the critical thing is delivery. We have just come out of an election; we have to be seen to be doing things.”

Asked if that was not putting the cart before the horse as the issue of the hung council had to first be resolved, Pheko replied: ‘Let them call another election to resolve this situation.”

However, it is understood that not everyone in the PAC agrees on a non-partisan position, raising the spectre of further divisions.

With negotiations in Cape Town continuing, Cape Town city manager Wallace Mgoqi issued a public notice announcing next Wednesday as the city’s first post-election meeting. This has increased the pressure on political parties to find a settlement for the city, home to two-thirds of the province’s population, over the weekend.

Despite the deadlock in Cape Town, the DA and ACDP have joined forces in one important rural Western Cape municipality: they and the Freedom Front Plus are to jointly rule the George council, with 20 of the 39 council seats.

The DA’s mayoral claim, in Cape Town, as the largest party with 42% of the vote was contested by the ACDP. But agreement was reached on a 50:50 split in the city’s governing structure between the DA and the forum’s parties.

The centrality of the mayor’s post also emerged in parallel discussions between the DA and the ID, which holds 23 seats, and the ID and the ANC, which won 81 seats.

The DA insisted on the mayor’s post, while the ANC’s opening gambit was to hold out for an executive mayor — described as ‘most ideal” for service delivery by party bosses — but allowing for a multi-party mayoral committee.

Given that option, the ID appeared to backtrack from its earlier demand for a mayoral committee system where all political parties would be represented, without an all-powerful executive mayor. ID leader Patricia de Lille said an executive mayoral system was ‘acceptable if it is representative … We can’t have a system like we had in the past where one party appointed everyone”.

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Marianne Merten
Guest Author

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