How the ANC blew it

The African National Congress’s rigid negotiation strategy cost it the city of Cape Town and seats on the mayoral committee.

Newly elected Democratic Alliance executive mayor Helen Zille will not invite the party to her mayoral committee. ”We considered a formula to bring the ANC in, but their demands were just out of proportion … They were demanding the mayoral position. The voters didn’t vote for [ANC mayoral candidate] Nomaindia Mfeketo,” Zille told the Mail & Guardian.

However, the Independent Democrats, which supported the ANC, will be asked to participate in the interest of stability, which remains a concern as power in the council remains finely balanced.

The DA and six smaller parties together have 105 seats in the 210-strong councils, the ANC 81, the ID 23 and the Pan Africanist Congress, which decided to remain neutral, one.

The deal that wrested the city from the ANC was clinched on Monday.

The queenmaker was not the ID and its 23 seats, but the African Christian Democratic Party, which herded the other smaller parties together within days of the March 1 poll.

Monday’s opposition agreement held — despite ANC and ID pressure on the Africa Muslim Party in a 20-minute caucus break. It followed the election of Freedom Front Plus member Dirk Smit as speaker, with 105 to 104 votes and one abstention — an unmistakable hint of how the mayoral votes would go.

It has emerged that until Tuesday the ANC had only informally approached smaller parties with a vague proposal about working together. The meeting with the ACDP faltered over the demand for an ANC mayor. However, there were two meetings with the ID, when the ANC won it over to the executive mayoral system.

Following the ANC’s national working committee meeting on Monday, provincial ANC officials made a last-minute push, meeting the DA for the first time after reaching agreements with it on Knysna and Beaufort West. The talks lasted until early morning.

The ANC has scheduled a collective post-mortem to analyse what went wrong. ”Whether you win or lose, you always discuss in the ANC because you must learn,” said ANC provincial chairperson James Ngculu.

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Marianne Merten
Guest Author

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