The ruling ANC has lost control over Gauteng’s three metros, and struggled to hold on to eThekwini, when councils sat to elect their executives this week. In an about turn, the EFF voted on all 4 occasions, including in eThekwini, to vote for the Democratic Alliance’s mayoral candidate, despite no coalition agreement, and in spite of the party claiming that it would not vote with a ‘white’ controlled party. ActionSA, however stayed true to its ideal of doing everything possible to rid the ANC from governance.
Governance may, however, prove very difficult, especially since there currently is no coalition agreement -the DA is ostensibly heading a minority government in many instances. Meanwhile, in Metsimaholo, the EFF gained its first mayor. However, this was mainly since a coalition agreement was concluded between the party and disillusioned former ANC councillors.
Speaking to Radio Islam International, Roland Henwood, a lecturer at the University of Pretoria, argued that the DA’s victory was largely orchestrated by ActionSA’s Herman Mashaba, who initially claimed responsibility for the negotiations. Henwood, however, argued that this may not be such a master stroke, especially were citizens to see parties such as the EFF and ActionSA as not being concerned with governance, but stonewalling. He questioned, “are they out to destroy governance, are they there to support good governance, are they going to empower the governments that they elected? He added, “If you elect the government, you have a particular responsibility.”
Henwood also reiterated that the DA could choose to exit government whenever it wanted, since there was no coalition agreement keeping it in place.
Nelson Mandela Metro seemed to be an exception, as the ANC was able to elect its candidate to the mayoral position. However, Henwood argued that this was mainly since a DA candidate had not yet been sworn in, providing the ruling party with the majority in council. Significantly, according to Henwood, the DA also predicted this, hence its limited publicity and concentration on the metro.
In other councils, the ANC, together with other local parties, had more success. Significantly, local players such as the Forum for Service Delivery, chose to support the ANC in Limpopo, but the DA in the North West. This will likely improve service delivery and accountability, and was based on practicalities not ideology.