/ 30 November 2017

Strange bedfellows: EFF saves Joburg mayor Mashaba in no confidence vote



Johannesburg Mayor Herman Mashaba has survived a motion of no confidence, after the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) grudgingly gave its vote to the Democratic Alliance (DA) again, in the city council on Thursday.

The ANC brought the motion against Mashaba and the council speaker Vasco Da Gama, arguing that there was a “barrage of reasons” why they have both failed. The motion against Mashaba was defeated with 121 for and 140 votes against, while the motion against Da Gama also failed by 122 votes for and 140 against.

The EFF held the balance of power with its 30 seats.

The EFF and DA hold directly opposing ideologies and economic roadmaps for South Africa. Their cooperation in Johannesburg, Tshwane and Nelson Mandela Bay has been described as a ‘technical agreement’ within their ranks, and a ‘sell-out coalition’ by their rivals.

Last Friday, the party’s president Julius Malema told the Business Day the EFF made a mistake backing Mashaba as the metro’s mayor in 2016, but they had chosen the lesser of the two evils between the ANC and DA.

EFF councillors in Johannesburg similarly said they had decided to pick the man who sold hair products instead of a “corrupt” ANC.

On Thursday, the EFF would be expected defend Mashaba against the ANC’s bid to unseat him.

The motion was preceded by an counter petition online: #HandsOffMashaba. It received 92 227 signatures and trended on social media throughout the day. Hours before the motion was tabled, DA leader Mmusi Maimane also led a march by hundreds of people towards the council.

The DA leader said the ANC’s corrupt leaders feared former Gauteng Hawks boss Shadrack Sibiya, who Mashaba hired to investigate corruption in the city.

Back in the Braamfontein council chambers, the motion of no confidence proceeded with tense exchanges between councillors, and the EFF’s reluctant support of the DA.

The ANC presented its “barrage of reasons” why Mashaba and Da Gama had failed.

“The mayor decided to hide the state of the finances of the city from the people, by withdrawing the reports from the council,” ANC councillor Jodilee Matongo said when tabling the motion.

Three council meetings have already collapsed under Da Gama’s watch, the council held special meetings to “primarily pursue Mashaba’s agenda of getting rid of senior managers”. The cost of these meetings was not explained to the council by Da Gama, Matongo said.

But it was the EFF that held the only real power.

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. We are not operating under normal circumstances,” EFF councillor Silumko Mabona began in a sombre tone, his hands gripping the podium.

“I agree with councillor Matongo, you must discharge your responsibility with integrity and in an impartial way,” Mabona told Da Gama.

Mabona explained that the EFF believes Da Gama is failing at being speaker.

“A speaker of council is the political head of the legislature and must give direction… but speaker, you seem to be Alice in Wonderland. You cannot resolve executive/political dynamics administratively. It seems you wanted to be mayor,” he lamented.

But a subtle hint the EFF would remain loyal to its opposing class soon surfaced.

“Don’t play with power and let the executive confuse you… We have as the EFF a coalition with the poor people of Johannesburg and we have a duty to delivery quality services. That begins with you speaker,” he said.

Then finally, the concession that it would side with the DA despite it’s concerns about Da Gama.

“As the EFF we want to state it unapologetically that we reject this motion and we will vote against it,” Mabona said.

The chamber erupted into song, with DA councillors clapping hands and cheering.