D-day for councils as opposition coalitions talks falter

South Africa’s 66 hung municipalities — among them the key Johannesburg and eThekwini metros — have until the end of today to constitute councils and elect a fresh municipal leadership.

Should they fail to do so, they face the prospect of being dissolved and the elections being rerun within 90 days in terms of Section 25 of the Municipal Structures Act.

The ANC has secured governance agreements with the Patriotic Alliance (PA) and the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) across the country, but its failure to nail down a coalition agreement with the Economic Freedom Fighters means that neither eThekwini nor Johannesburg were guaranteed ahead of their first council sittings on Monday.

At the same time, the failure of the Democratic Alliance to reach consensus with ActionSA means that any hopes for the DA-led coalition to regain control of Johannesburg also appear to have died.

DA federal chairperson Helen Zille said on Monday morning that the party would not repeat its “mistake” of 2016 and go into a minority coalition with the EFF. It would also not form a coalition with ActionSA, with its leader Herman Mashaba mayor, because it would still need the backing of the ANC or the EFF to pass budgets and other major council decisions.

“The DA will remain true to its values and principles, as promised to its voters before the election. Throughout the election campaign, the DA has been steadfast in its position that we would rather be a strong opposition … than being part of a shaky coalition that limps from meeting to meeting and depends on the support of the EFF,” Zille said.

To ensure that its Johannesburg mayoral candidate, Mpho Moerane, makes it over the line, the ANC needs to muster 45 votes from smaller parties to make the 136 seat total it requires. With the PA holding eight seats and the IFP seven, this is not guaranteed.

In eThekwini, where the ANC holds 96 of 222 seats, the governing party has announced that it will field the incumbent, acting mayor Mxolisi Kaunda, ahead of Thabani Nyawose, who topped the party’s list for the city going into the poll on 1 November.

Kaunda, who is close to the party’s Radical Economic Transformation faction, was among those provincial leaders who called for former president Jacob Zuma’s release ahead of — and during -— the riots which devastated the province and parts of Gauteng in July.

In Ekurhuleni, the ANC will field incumbent Mzwandile Masina as mayoral candidate, and in Nelson Mandela Bay the party’s Eugene Johnson will stand as mayor.

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Paddy Harper
Paddy Harper

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