Governance agreements with the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) and the Patriotic Alliance (PA) appear to have given the ANC control of hung councils in small towns in KwaZulu-Natal and the Western Cape, ahead of the 23 November deadline for municipalities to be constituted.
The deals, announced by the leaders of the IFP and PA this week,
are also aimed at offsetting the ANC’s electoral losses in the Ekurhuleni and Johannesburg metropolitan municipalities, where it is trying to put together governing coalitions.
But a deadlock in talks between the ANC and the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) — and the refusal of ActionSA to work with the ruling party — means the country’s hung metro councils in which the governing party failed to secure a clear majority in the 1 November local government elections are still beyond its grasp.
On Tuesday, EFF leader Julius Malema told a media briefing that coalition talks with the ANC had broken down over its failure to discuss cardinal principles put forward by the EFF.
As a result, the EFF, which took just over 10% of the vote, would not be working with the ANC. “There’s nowhere where the EFF is going to vote with the ANC. We are going to disrupt them to teach them a lesson. The EFF is not voting with anyone in Gqeberha. We are not going to vote with any racist either,” Malema said.
In the Western Cape, the ANC has secured agreements with the PA, the Karoo Gemeenskap Party (KGP) and the Karoo Democratic Force, which give it control over the Laingsburg, Prince Albert and Beaufort West municipalities, all of which were hung.
In terms of the agreement, the ANC will take the speaker’s position in the Greater Karoo district municipality, under which the municipalities fall, the PA the mayorship and the KGP the post of deputy mayor.
PA leader Gayton McKenzie said this week that the parties would support each other countrywide, with his party requiring mayoral committee housing and infrastructure positions to secure its participation.
Beyond the Karoo, the deal will benefit the ANC in the Ekurhuleni and Johannesburg metros as well as the Emfuleni local municipality in Gauteng, Sol Plaatje local municipality in the Northern Cape and in the JB Marks local municipality in North West.
The PA will govern the Karoo Hoogland local municipality in the Northern Cape in return.
In terms of the ANC’s agreement with the IFP, the two parties will support each other in the 21 hung councils in KwaZulu-Natal, which either one of them leads without constituting a formal coalition government
The IFP had previously said it would not coalesce with the ANC because of the governing party’s failure to meet the terms of earlier agreements between the parties.
The “governance agreement” announced by IFP president Velenkosini Hlabisa on Wednesday, was “not a coalition” but rather a means “of allowing the party with the most votes to govern while the other party is relegated to the opposition”.
The IFP would invite smaller parties and independents to form governments with it in the hung councils it led, but not the ANC. It would also not serve in ANC-led local governments, but would “support” them.
“We will, therefore, remain opponents, but opponents who have agreed to operate on the same principle for the sake of securing stability in local governance and affording our people service delivery,” he said.
Hlabisa said the parties would apply the agreement across the country.
This agreement is likely to be put to the test immediately, with the Democratic Alliance announcing it would field mayoral candidates in all KwaZulu-Natal municipalities, which would force the IFP to openly vote for the ANC nominees.
“The DA will now field mayoral candidates in KwaZulu-Natal’s hung municipalities, including eThekwini and Msunduzi,” said its KwaZulu-Natal leader, Francois Rodgers.
“This will now force the IFP and ANC coalition to show its hand in the elections of these positions. Voters who voted for the IFP and ANC will see for themselves the fake campaigns run by both these parties,” he added.
Although the ANC-IFP agreement is likely to deliver stability to small town KwaZulu-Natal, negotiations are far from concluded in the major centres.
Hlabisa said talks were still ongoing about KwaZulu-Natal’s four economic hubs — Durban, Pietermaritzburg, Mhlatuze and Newcastle — where the situation was “more complex”’ and where the agreement would require third parties to deliver a government at city level.
The postponement of council meetings by ANC-run cooperative governance ministries in the Eastern Cape and Gauteng — and an alleged attempt to stall the inauguration of the DA’s only council in KwaZulu-Natal — are an early indication that trench warfare lies ahead in the councils the ANC lost control of.