The collapse of the “governance agreement” between the ANC and the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) — along with the backdown on the Johannesburg mayorship by ActionSA leader Herman Mashaba — gave the Democratic Alliance the keys to city hall in the country’s major metropolitan councils.
DA candidates also secured the backing of the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) despite federal chairperson Helen Zille’s earlier insistence that the party would not form coalitions with the red berets because of the collapse of earlier coalitions in Tshwane and Johannesburg.
What amounted to an “everybody but the ANC’’ alliance by smaller parties in both Johannesburg and Ekurhuleni saw DA mayoral and speaker candidates beat their ANC counterparts, while in eThekwini the ANC collapsed the inaugural council meeting to avoid their mayoral candidate, Mxolisi Kaunda, from suffering the same fate.
A day of high drama around the country also saw opposition parties led by the IFP take control of several hung municipalities in rural KwaZulu-Natal, among them Newcastle, Nongoma and Mvoti, after the collapse of the pact with the ANC.
Last week IFP president Velenkosini Hlabisa announced the “governance agreement” with the ANC, which would see the parties back each other’s candidates in hung municipalities where either led.
But the deal — which carried the renaming of the ANC’s Mzala Nxumalo region and the retaining the name Mangosuthu Buthelezi Highway for Umlazi, Durban’s main access road as conditions — collapsed ahead of Monday’s mayoral elections.
In the Eastern Cape, the ANC took control of the Nelson Mandela Bay metro by a single vote, primarily because of the collapse of coalition talks and the absence of DA councillor elect Retief Odendaal from Monday’s council meeting. Odendaal did not attend the meeting because of the party’s decision to keep him in the provincial legislature, avoiding a 60-60 deadlock, which would have led to further instability in Nelson Mandela Bay.
The withdrawal of Mashaba as the ActionSA mayoral candidate broke the deadlock that had existed among the opposition parties ahead of Monday’s deadline for council’s to be constituted.
The DA’s Vasco da Gama was elected as Johannesburg speaker and Mpho Phalatse as mayor, beating the ANC’s Mpho Moerane by 144 votes to 121 after Mashaba’s about-turn on standing as mayor in the city that he had led after the ANC’s loss of power in 2016.
Phalatse, who has been a DA councillor in the city since 2016, served as a mayoral committee member in Mashaba’s administration until its collapse in 2019. A medical doctor and public health specialist, Phalatse was first elected as a proportional representation councillor.
The Johannesburg vote saw the EFF, ActionSA and the IFP backing the DA candidates, despite their failure to reach any form of coalition agreement in the weekend talks among opposition parties, which had collapsed.
Although the DA had refused to form unstable opposition coalitions going into Monday’s elections, it has effectively found itself at the head of one in Johannesburg, Tshwane and elsewhere.
Mashaba described his withdrawal as choosing the city and the country over the party’s interests.
“We cannot betray this commitment to South Africans because of the petty party-political personality issues that have played out over the past 72 hours. Nowhere was this truer that in Johannesburg where my candidature for mayor, and the DA’s refusal to support the wishes of the multi-party agreement, was almost allowed to collapse these negotiations,”’ Mashba said.
The rout of the ANC in Gauteng has included Ekurhuleni, where mayor Mzwandile Masina’s hopes for another term through the ANC-IFP deal and a coalition agreement with the Patriotic Alliance (PA) were dashed on Monday.
The DA’s Tania Campbell pulled off the shock result with a 12 vote margin over Masina’s 104, and the DA’s Raymond Dhlamini defeated the ANC’s Dora Mlambo with 116 votes out of a possible 220.
Campbell had served as the public safety MMC in Ekurhuleni.
Shortly after the result, Masina Tweeted that he had accepted the result and committed the ANC in the metro to a “peaceful transition of power”.
Nelson Mandela Bay
In Nelson Mandela Bay metro, the ANC’s Eugene Johnson was elected as mayor by 60 votes to 59, beating the DA’s Nqaba Bhanga to the post in a surprise result that was, effectively, given to the governing party by the DA.
Northern Alliance (NA) leader Gary van Niekerk was elected as speaker of the municipality, taking 60 of 119 votes and beating the DA’s Rano Kayser in Monday’s council meeting, which was held after last week’s inaugural meeting was postponed.
The former deputy mayor, Buyelwa Mafaya, was re-elected unopposed.
In eThekwini, voting for mayor and deputy mayor will only take place on Wednesday after the ANC collapsed the council meeting, which had earlier elected the ANC’s Thabani Nyawose as speaker.
The IFP, which had agreed to vote for the ANC’s candidates, abstained from the vote for speaker in protest over the governing party’s decision to field Kaunda, rather than Nyawose, as mayoral candidate and the apparent collapse of the agreement between the parties.
During an adjournment, the IFP’s Mdu Khoza proposed that all the smaller parties back the DA mayoral candidate, Nicole Graham, against Kaunda and then remove Nyawose from office through a vote of no confidence.
This sparked attempts by the ANC councillors to have the meeting adjourned and an invasion of the Moses Mabhida Stadium, where the meeting was being held, by their supporters, who had gathered outside.
The power supply was also interrupted, causing the adjournment of the meeting.