/ 16 November 2021

Collapsed: EFF leaves coalition negotiating table with the ANC

Official Results Of South African Local Elections
The EFF has decided to close all talks with the ANC. (Photo by Shiraaz Mohamed/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

The ANC has a very narrow chance of regaining the five hung metros after the Economic Freedom Fighters announced on Tuesday that all talks have collapsed. 

In a media briefing on Tuesday, EFF leader Julius Malema said that the party had resolved to stop coalition discussions with ANC after the governing party failed to provide clear commitment and timelines on the principles and policies the fighters believed should form the foundation of any collaboration. 

“Instead, the ANC wanted to rush into discussing power-sharing and positions in municipalities before discussing the principles and policies raised by the EFF.

Based on this report, the war council resolved to stop coalition discussions and negotiations with the ANC because they are failing to provide clear commitments and timelines on the key issues raised as a basis for negotiations,” he said. 

The Mail & Guardian had previously reported that the EFF had approached ActionSA’s Herman Mashaba to form a partnership through which the ANC would receive support from the two parties in Ekurhuleni, while the EFF would take over Tshwane and Mashaba would become mayor in Johannesburg. This suggestion was rejected by ActionSA. 

This comes as the parties have less than two weeks to form coalitions in metros; they could face possible reruns should there be a failure to formulate councils. 

The ANC lost the most ground in this year’s local government elections: its majority was drastically reduced, falling to less than 50% in key municipalities. 

In Gauteng, where the ANC and the Democratic Alliance are looking to govern, both parties will need the help of the smaller parties to do so. 

DA leader John Steenhuisen, who also held a media briefing on Tuesday, said that nothing has been finalised in its talks with the smaller parties, including ActionSA. 

Steenhuisen added that the Patriotic Alliance’s announcement this week that it would go into a coalition with the ANC narrowed the blue party’s chances of regaining Johannesburg. However, in Tshwane, with the help of the smaller parties — including the African Christian Democratic Party, the Congress of the People, ActionSA and, possibly, the Inkatha Freedom Party — the DA could win back the metro. 

Last week, the M&G reported that the DA’s federal executive committee was warming up to the idea of Mashaba taking over the city of Johannesburg if ActionSA helps the DA to retain Tshwane and unseat the ANC in Ekurhuleni. 

Steenhuisen, however, said the executive mayoralty should rest with the party that brought the most votes into the coalition agreement. 

“What we have been abundantly clear about is that we want to include other parties in the coalition and we want to be able to provide effective positions for them in the Mayco [mayoral council] in various other capacities, in chairpersonships … we are not about hogging positions for ourselves. We just believe that the party with the most votes in the pot has the most risk to run with reputational damage if that coalition should collapse.” 

“There is nowhere in the 66 municipalities that the EFF is going to vote with the ANC,” Malema said, promising to destabilise the ANC in the 66 hung municipalities in which it won seats.

“We are working on something nice to teach them a lesson. The ANC, even today, still wants to speak as if they have got power … This decision we took today is going to rescue our organisation,” Malema said, adding that the party should be proud that it had managed to topple the ANC as the majority. 

At a rally held for party volunteers on 8 November, ANC president Cyril Ramaphosa pointed to a possible rerun of elections should coalition talks collapse. The M&G previously reported that Ramaphosa, together with his ally, ANC chair Gwede Mantashe, were reluctant to form a coalition with the EFF, because of its inconsistency. 

“We will not enter into coalitions at all costs. Our decisions will be principled, political and strategic. As we enter into coalitions, we will insist that coalition relationships are structured, that there are clear coalition agreements in place and that the contents of agreements are known to voters. We want coalitions that are stable, credible and have an agreed programme of work that delivers what communities need,” Ramaphosa said.

Both Steenhuisen and Malema dismissed the president’s statements. 

Calling Ramaphosa misleading, Steenhuisen said the earliest that a rerun of the local government elections could take place is mid-year in 2023. 

“There could well be minority governments set up in a number of councils around the country. Obviously, they will try to work out how to navigate this going forward. It’s not ideal but we must accept that the election results are a fair and accurate reflection of the will of the people. Just because you don’t like the result shouldn’t mean that you say ‘let’s go for a rerun’,” he said. 

Malema was also unfazed by Ramaphosa threats of a rerun, saying that the EFF will ensure that there is a quorum formed in any municipality to ensure there are no reruns of the elections. 

“We are going to participate in metros fully. We will make sure we give them the necessary majority to form a quorum,” he said. 

Malema advised outgoing ANC mayors in Gauteng — Mzwandile Masina in Ekurhuleni and Mpho Moerane in Johannesburg — to “pack their bags and go home”. 

He said that the ANC had negotiated in bad faith, adding that the ANC’s top brass sent junior leaders to the negotiating table with the EFF, whereas the fighters sent their key politicians. 

“The EFF will not be voting for, and will not support, any candidate put forward by the ANC in all municipalities for all positions, including positions of speakers, chief whips and mayors. The EFF will not vote for political parties that did not approach us for coalition discussions,” Malema said. “In municipalities where there is sufficient consensus and possibility to win, the EFF will field candidates for positions in the municipalities, and in each instance, we will publish the basis, principles and policies of such collaborations.”