No end in sight for DA and ActionSA coalition talks

The Democratic Alliance and ActionSA’s leaders continue to butt heads over coalition arrangements for Gauteng metros. 

The Mail & Guardian has been reliably informed that although the DA has been frustrated during negotiations with the party led by Herman Mashaba, talks with other smaller parties have concluded. 

The Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) is among those expected to reap the rewards of the DA-led coalition in the Gauteng metros. The  IFP concluded talks with the DA last week, where both parties agreed that the former would receive the transport mayoral committee portfolio in Ekurhuleni and the housing portfolio in Johannesburg. 

An insider in the IFP said the party was happy with the agreement but would keep a watchful eye on the DA, which has been known to assume a “bigger brother” stance in coalitions, to the frustration of its smaller partners. 

The DA has offered ActionSA two mayoral committee positions in Tshwane, two in Johannesburg and one in Ekurhuleni. ActionSA is to respond to the offer and amend some of the stipulations by the DA on Thursday, a DA leader said. 

“I have not seen the letter yet but I know that we have given them an offer which I think is fair. I’m sure they will ask to also be chairs of committees but that is something that we will have to really think about,” the DA leader said. 

Speaking last week on the sidelines of a DA media briefing, Johannesburg mayor Mpho Phalatse said she had already picked her mayoral committee. 

“I already have my mayco [mayoral committee]. The only thing I am waiting for is for the party to conclude the negotiations with smaller parties because that might impact on the number of positions that we end up with as the DA. Then I’ll have to make some movements. So, yes, I choose my own mayco. Yes, the list does get approved by the federal executive,” she said.

Phalaste said she would also start advertising for a city manager who would be trusted by the multiparty government. 

Tania Campbell, the new DA mayor in Ekurhuleni, said she had a majority say on who would be on her mayoral committee, although there were some parties the DA had come to an understanding with regarding the positions. 

“Those are people we can work with very, very well. My aim is not to keep anyone out of maycos and chairpersons because, if you want to work together with people, you need that type of input from all the different parties,” she said.

The DA’s first attempt to elect committee chairs was thwarted by its coalition partners in Johannesburg on Thursday, who were up in arms after the council agenda was changed to include the composition and selection of committee chairs. 

In a statement, ActionSA said this was shortsighted on the part of the DA given that coalition negotiations were still ongoing.

“Trying to conclude the composition of these committees, prior to the completion of those negotiations, would have been an affront to the negotiations. Whilst this is an important issue to be dealt with, as the committees perform a crucial oversight function over the executive, it is absurd that these committees be established before the establishment of the mayoral committee whom these committees are established to conduct oversight over,” said Funzi Ngobeni, ActionSA’s Johannesburg caucus whip.

“Since the mayor has not appointed a mayoral committee, the question becomes over whom would these oversight committees be exercising oversight, given that these committees must mirror the configuration of MMC [member of the mayoral committee] portfolios to effectively conduct oversight.”

ActionSA Gauteng chair John Moodey declined to comment, but DA federal council chair Helen Zille said negotiations with him were still ongoing, adding that her party was at different stages of concluding talks with the different political organisations.

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Lizeka Tandwa
Lizeka Tandwa
Lizeka Tandwa is a political journalist with a keen interest in local government.

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