South Africa

LOCAL GOVERNMENT: GAUTENG

City of Tshwane stalemate: Here we go again?

ActionSA leader in Tshwane, Abel Tau. (Photo: Peter Mothiba)

Political parties in Tshwane could find themselves in the same situation as before — when the metro was put under administration in March 2020.

It is evident the DA was handed a “poisoned chalice” by other political parties that gave it unsolicited support to govern Tshwane, but it is the responsibility of all parties in the metro to ensure that the city works and fulfils its mandate to deliver services to residents. 

Any party that fails to cooperate, which may once again lead to the collapse of the municipality, will be judged harshly by voters.

The council collapsed in 2020 after the EFF and the ANC repeatedly boycotted and walked out of meetings. 

The lack of a quorum meant the council was unable to make important binding decisions to better the lives of Tshwane’s residents. 

At present, the governing DA still has to rely on votes from opposition parties in the metro as there was no outright winner in the recent local government elections. 

ActionSA leader in the City of Tshwane, Abel Tau, has admitted to Daily Maverick his party is in talks with the DA to form a coalition government. 

ActionSA won 19 seats, compared with the ANC’s 75, the DA’s 69 and the EFF’s 23. 

Ten questions for Tau:        

Q: Are you satisfied with ActionSA’s performance in the 2021 local government elections?                

 A: Not at all. But we accept the results. This, as our party was only formed a year ago. I believe we have a solid platform to build on going forward.

Q: To what do you attribute its failure to win the City of Tshwane? 

A: The matter of the IEC refusing to print our name on the ballot paper put us at a great disadvantage. Another factor is that we had limited resources. Be that as it may, I must admit that this is not yet our time and we still have to grow as a political party. Some of the parties we were competing against are decades old. With time, Action South Africa will be able to garner more support.

Q: What will be your role as the opposition?                 

A: We are going to do our oversight work and, as negotiations with the DA are now under way regarding the formation of a coalition government, we might be part of the government and deliver on our election manifesto promises. 

Q: Are you prepared to enter into a formal coalition with the DA to govern the City of Tshwane? 

A: Yes, we are talking to the DA and other parties, but we will never negotiate or work with the ANC in Tshwane or anywhere else, for that matter. 

Q: Aren’t you concerned the metro may collapse again if parties fail to reach agreement in future and are unable to vote together?      

A: The DA is the incumbent party in the City of Tshwane. It is up to them to prevent the city from collapsing. Our role as Action South Africa is to give them support and exercise our oversight role. If the DA behaves in an unreasonable manner and the city collapses down the line, Action South Africa cannot be held responsible for that.

Q: Are you in favour of a re-run to resolve the hung council issue? 

A: A re-run or run-off is part of our election system and if it arises then we will be ready for it. We also believe we may perform much better in a re-run than we did during the recent elections. 

Q: Small, independent parties in the Tshwane metro have suggested that big, well-established parties should not take part in local government elections, but should rather stick to national elections. What’s your take on this? 

A: That’s absurd. That’s madness for anyone to try to exclude big parties from taking part in local government elections. Independent, small parties must use their hold at grassroots level to their advantage and compete against the big parties. It is good for democracy that we have both small and big parties contesting local government elections.    

Q: One of the issues that ActionSA campaigned on was the matter of illegal migrants. Are you still going to pursue this as the opposition in council? 

A: We will push the DA very hard on this matter during our coalition discussions. Ultimately, the decision on this matter must not be seen to be that of ActionSA or the DA, but must be viewed as a policy of the City of Tshwane. 

Q: Drugs like nyaope are a problem in the city. Are you going to deal with it?   

A: We envisage the formation of specialised police units that would deal with drugs like nyaope so as to cut supply to addicts of the drug. Social intervention measures like the establishment of rehabilitation centres must also be put in place to deal with this. 

Q: One of your leaders, Michael Beaumont, has declared that no member of ActionSA would be allowed to criticise the DA publicly. Doesn’t this stifle freedom of speech? 

A: Not at all. The party has taken a position that we cannot be seen as hampering the success of coalition talks that are currently under way with the DA. It is only responsible to ask our members not to be involved in a tit-for-tat spat with the DA. This does not mean the freedom of speech of our members is being curtailed. Being involved in mud-slinging with the DA at this stage of negotiations won’t be in the interest of our voters. DM

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