2021 LOCAL ELECTIONS
Tshwane metro battleground (Part Two): A disastrous coalition and promises from contenders
In the five years since a DA-led coalition ousted the ANC, the City of Tshwane has had four mayors and was unlawfully placed under provincial administration. Candidates are now lining up to influence coalition negotiations and take the mayoral chains.
It’s been a tumultuous five years in Tshwane. The ANC lost the city in the 2016 municipal elections, securing 89 seats to the DA’s 93. Solly Msimanga of the DA became the mayor after forming a coalition with a number of smaller parties.
Msimanga’s DA-led coalition relied on support from the EFF, which won 25 seats, but he didn’t finish his term. He left in 2019, saying he was resigning to focus on his run for Gauteng premier, but his mayorship included a number of scandals.
The ANC’s Kgosi Maepa insisted Msimanga was “running away from a possible vote of no confidence due to the GladAfrica scandal and the hiring of an unqualified person to be the… chief of staff in his office”.
In came the DA’s Stevens Mokgalapa, who resigned after he was allegedly caught in a sex audio scandal. Mokgalapa blamed his detractors for his fate. He was replaced in November 2019 by the then MMC for Utility Management, Abel Tau, who worked for a short while as the city’s acting mayor before quitting in early 2020 after falling out of favour with the national leadership of the DA.
Tau subsequently joined Herman Mashaba’s ActionSA, but the unofficial coalition between the EFF and the DA in Tshwane had already nosedived. In July 2020, EFF leader Julius Malema said his party would “fold its arms” and no longer vote with the DA in council meetings.
The DA started struggling when trying to pass important motions at council meetings, such as the city budget. To compound matters, the EFF and the ANC tried several times to pass a vote of no confidence in Speaker Katlego Mathebe. This tactic was coupled with deliberate absence and walkouts from council meetings by members of the EFF and the ANC, denying the council a quorum.
“Service delivery in the City of Tshwane suffered a great deal due to irresponsible actions of the ANC and the EFF. Rubbish could not be collected, repairs to municipal properties could not be carried out and the city was in complete chaos,” said Mamelodi-based political commentator Peter Makgathulela.
This state of affairs led to Gauteng MEC of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Lebogang Maile, from the ANC, putting the city under provincial government control in March 2020. He alleged that the Tshwane council could no longer carry out its constitutional duties and had to be dissolved and the city placed under administration. Maile’s decision was recently declared unlawful by the Constitutional Court.
In reaction to the court’s ruling, Tshwane Mayor Randall Williams, from the DA, said: “For months residents of Tshwane suffered under unelected and unlawfully deployed ANC administrators imposed by MEC Maile. In just eight months they brought the city to its knees, collapsing service delivery and incurring a R4.3-million deficit.”
Polling suggests no party will take a majority in the city in Monday’s local government elections, meaning both national and hyper-local parties might be able to influence coalition negotiations.
Williams (60) is the DA’s mayoral candidate. Before becoming mayor, he was the city’s MMC for Economic Development and Spatial Planning.
The DA’s slogan for the elections is: “The DA gets things done”, and according to mayoral chief of staff Jordan Griffiths, the DA administration will formalise informal settlements and provide them with proper services.
“The lottery recruitment system will continue to be used in getting unemployed people to work on projects like water reticulation and energy infrastructure so as to stimulate economic growth. Financial management and discipline will be implemented to restore the city’s credit status and stabilise its operations.
“Decreasing the city’s dependency on Eskom will be a core intervention. Individuals and businesses who are in debt for municipal services will face credit control measures like cut-offs, debt collectors and legal action to compel them to honour their obligations,” Griffiths said.
Former mayor Tau is ActionSA’s mayoral candidate. He was born in Winterveld and grew up in Soshanguve, Tshwane. He was a senior superintendent at Transnet before becoming a DA politician.
“I am promising the citizens of Tshwane a clean administration that will be customer-centric, fight corruption, ensure citizens are safe, insource vulnerable workers and implement a correct billing system. My administration will maintain infrastructure and have a city that works literally,” he said.
On migration, Tau said the city can’t afford to have people in its midst who are undocumented as this is a clear violation of the sovereignty of South Africa. He stressed that job opportunities must be given to South African citizens ahead of foreigners.
The EFF and ANC have not made public the names of their mayoral candidates and will only do so after the elections. The ANC spokesperson in Tshwane, Aaron Maluleke, said the party promises a resilient city that will be responsive to major issues like energy and water provision.
“We are going to sort out the faulty billing system once and for all. Estimates by meter readers will be scrapped. We will get the people with the best skills to run the administration of the metro. Hawkers will no longer be forced to pay a fee for selling their stuff in the streets. The enhancement of tourism in Tshwane will receive top priority from an ANC-led administration,” said Maluleke.
Regarding the Hammanskraal water crisis, Maluleke said the DA and EFF lack ideas and the ANC would resolve this problem speedily once it is voted back into power.
EFF spokesperson Dr Mamoloto Tlabela said, “The EFF’s main aim is to rebuild the Hammanskraal Wastewater Treatment Plant in six months and give free water and electricity to the indigent in Tshwane.”
Independent election analyst Wayne Sussman said that major battlegrounds in Tshwane will be in Refiloe, Donkerhoek, Arcadia, Centurion and Pretoria West.
“Olievenhoutbosch and the Reeds area are places where the ANC and the DA are usually competitive. The ANC’s stronghold is in Winterveld and the east of Pretoria, while the DA’s stronghold is in Pretoria North and Centurion.
“The EFF is much stronger in Soshanguve while the Freedom Front Plus is always at its best in places like Fairy Glen,” said Sussman.
He said coalitions that may arise will be between the ANC and the EFF, as well as between the Freedom Front Plus and the DA. Coalition negotiations and maintaining such alliances, however, could be fraught, as the city’s last five years have shown.
A number of smaller parties are also competing in the elections and could play a part in coalition negotiations.
“Land is economy, economy is land. With the possession of land, the people of Tshwane will get affordable houses, water, roads, sanitation, electricity, health centres and schools,” said Pan Africanist Congress of Azania (PAC) candidate Molwantwa Samuel Tshabadi.
The Abantu Batho Congress’s Peter Moyo said, “Many people in our ward adhere to our manifesto and principles, which simply entail community upliftment. We will only be contesting elections in our immediate area, which is Ward 16.”
See Part One on Tshwane metro battleground here:
The Concerned Residents for Service Delivery in Mamelodi party is led by Oupa Andries Mtshweni.
“Our party will be contesting the elections only in Mamelodi, Atteridgeville and Nellmapius,” he said.
“Our aim is to gain representation in the municipal council so that we can speak for the voiceless people who are suffering due to the unfair and faulty billing system as practised by the City of Tshwane municipality.”
There’s also the Republican Conference, headed by Vickson Mabunda, who formed his own political party after he and his family, together with their neighbours, were hit by floods in December 2019 and lost everything.
“No other political party can solve our problems as squatter camp dwellers if we ourselves do not form our own party to solve our own problems,’’ said Mabunda. DM
Peter Mothiba is a freelance journalist based in Mamelodi, Tshwane.