EFF spurns DA, woos ANC

In full flight: Tshwane mayor Solly Msimanga survived a motion of no confidence. (Delwyn Verasamy)

In full flight: Tshwane mayor Solly Msimanga survived a motion of no confidence. (Delwyn Verasamy)

After apparently being ignored by the ANC, the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) are finally set for coalition talks with the ruling party —but leader Julius Malema is insisting on an “open’” relationship.

The ANC top brass want to meet EFF leaders as early as next week to discuss a possible coalition between the two parties and a suitable candidate for the position of executive mayor of Tshwane.

On Thursday, Tshwane mayor Solly Msimanga survived a motion of no confidence brought by the EFF and the ANC after the speaker disallowed the EFF’s motion.

READ MORE: Solly survives to fight another day

Malema told the Mail & Guardian his party was planning to challenge Tshwane speaker Katlego Mathebe in court.

“We are getting a legal opinion on it. If [the speaker’s decision] is correct, we will write a new motion and put [a] motivation,” said Malema.

ANC head of elections and campaigning Fikile Mbalula told the M&G a meeting between the ANC and the EFF would probably take place next week, after the party’s special national executive committee meeting, which started on Thursday.

“We will meet with them quite clearly. There have been meetings [between the ANC and EFF] in terms of the local structures. We will meet with them, permitting, next week, if they agree,” said Mbalula.

Mbalula said some ANC leaders had already had informal discussions with EFF leaders about a possible coalition.“At a macro-political level there has been an informal exchange but there has never been a meeting where we can confirm we discussed it. We can’t say there was an agreement. If there is a meeting, they will probably meet with our officials but the ANC will determine the delegation. Interaction in the fluid political space, [that’s] where [we] are at, and a direct meeting is two different things. I can interact with whoever in the EFF; it doesn’t mean there is a meeting.”

Malema said his party had written to the ANC some time ago requesting a meeting to discuss a coalition but the party had not responded.

He said the EFF would support any party that put forward a credible candidate to take over as Tshwane executive mayor.

“Our conditions are simple —the ANC must present a credible candidate. They can’t bring dodgy characters and expect us to support them,” said Malema.

He said the EFF would not enter into a formal relationship with the ANC even if the party supports its candidate for the position of mayor.

“We will vote for them if we want to vote for them. We don’t want to have some form of arrangement or some formal relationship. We are fine. We are an independent organisation that takes independent decisions. We are not bound by anything. We will not surrender that freedom,” said Malema.

The EFF leader recently told the SABC that the ANC and his party could work together if the governing party accepted certain conditions, such as speeding up the prosecution of cases of corruption.

“The possibility emanates from: Will you meet the conditions that the EFF will set? On condition characters like Bathabile Dlamini and Nomvula Mokonyane are not part of the government, otherwise we will not work with you,” Malema said.

After the 2016 local government elections the EFF also set conditions for working with the ANC in a coalition council.

The conditions included the removal of Jacob Zuma as president, free education, expropriation of land without compensation and the nationalisation of the South African Reserve Bank and the mines.

Mbalula said during the press briefing on Thursday that governing alongside the EFF in a coalition government would be “based on the material conditions”.

“The ANC is working for decisive victory and we are talking to everybody. We are talking to the EFF at any given point in time based on areas where we are confronted with this phenomenon of coalitions.

“As the ANC we will work and talk with them on issues where we can find each other in the coalition governments. If we don’t find each other, that’s it. But we will engage with them,” he said.

Mbalula dismissed DA leader Mmusi Maimane’s description of the ANC and EFF’s co-operation in a motion of no confidence against Nelson Mandela Bay mayor Athol Trollip last week as a “coalition of corruption”.

Mbalula said Maimane should be more concerned with being controlled by his white colleagues.

“He must tighten the belt. He knows his title is under threat,” Mbalula said. “There is a very vicious clique that Maimane himself will not exorcise that will not do things differently. They will rather die than do things differently. You will not want to fight, you will rather go.

“The real man behind Maimane is Selfe. That’s the one who controls. I want to talk to Selfe. So that we understand each other.”

This week the DA’s federal executive committee held an urgent meeting to discuss the planned motion of no confidence and it decided it would still field Msimanga as mayoral candidate even if he were to be voted out.

Gauteng DA leader John Moodey said the federal executive reached the decision to continue supporting Msimanga after it considered the 2019 national elections and the fact that Msimanga has been selected as the DA’s Gauteng premier candidate.

He said fielding a mayoral candidate other than Msimanga would in effect have been the DA’s own show of no confidence in Msimanga and risked sending the wrong message to voters.

“What message would it be sending that? Just over a week ago we appointed Solly Msimanga as our candidate for premier?” Moodey said. “If we had allowed ourselves to be dictated to by force to put someone else there as mayor it would have been a vote of no confidence against Solly from our own party. It just wouldn’t have made sense,” he added.

Moodey said, had the motion against Msimanga succeeded, the DA would have been happy to sit in the opposition benches rather than abandon Msimanga to keep power.

The speaker disallowed the motion after DA councillor Randall Williams alleged that the EFF had failed to submit a written proposal to motivate urgency, an objection she believed was valid.

Angry EFF councillors stormed out of the chamber vowing to “show” Mathebe and to take her to court.

EFF Tshwane caucus leader Benjamin Disoloane said the party was angered by Mathebe’s decision but did not feel discouraged by the failure of its attempt to remove Msimanga.

He said the removal of Athol Trollip as Nelson Mandela Bay mayor after several failed attempts was an indication that Msimanga would also be on his way out.

READ MORE: Fires in DA distract Maimane ahead of 2019 polls

“We are extremely angry because this morning we came with all this energy. But our energy will never drop, we are going to soldier on and fight his battle. Remember, this is a war,” Disoloane added.

After the failure of the EFF’s no-confidence motion the ANC made a decision to withdraw its own motion against Msimanga.

Although  the party claimed its withdrawal was the result of unhappiness with the speaker’s conduct, it is likely to have made the decision because it was unexpectedly deserted by the EFF, which decided not to return to the sitting.

Matuma Letsoalo

Matuma Letsoalo

Matuma Letsoalo is the political editor of the Mail & Guardian. He joined the newspaper in 2003 and has won numerous awards since then, including the regional award for Vodacom Journalist of the Year in the economics and finance category in 2015, SA Journalist of the Year in 2011, the Mondi Shanduka SA Story of the Year award in 2008 and CNN African Journalist of the Year – MKO Abiola Print Journalism in 2004.
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