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EFF tips scales to help DA cling to power in Knysna 

South Africa

LOCAL POLITICS

DA clings to power in Knysna — thanks to EFF’s abstention 

Democratic Alliance (DA) supporters (Photo by Gallo Images / Sunday Times / Simphiwe Nkwali)|ANC supporters (Photo by Gallo Images/Volksblad/Mlungisi Louw)| ANC supporters (Photo by Gallo Images/Darren Stewart)

The Economic Freedom Fighters’ abstention from voting in four motions of no confidence during a council sitting in Knysna Municipality has meant that the governing coalition of the DA and the Knysna Independent Movement remains in place.

The coalition between the Democratic Alliance (DA) and the Knysna Independent Movement (KIM) will continue to govern Knysna Municipality following failed motions of no confidence. This, after the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) abstained from voting, which led the DA speaker to cast the deciding vote. 

The council sitting took place on Tuesday, during which motions of no confidence in mayor Levael Davis, speaker Julie Lopes, council whip Hilton Stroebel and deputy mayor Mark Willemse were voted on.

The motions were brought by the Patriotic Alliance (PA) which, until recently, was part of the coalition with the DA and KIM. 

Gupta lawyers bow out as IDC’s R287m fight against Oakbay rolls into year five

Following “insults” directed at PA leader Gayton McKenzie, the party withdrew from its coalitions with the DA in the Matzikama and Knysna municipalities in the Western Cape.

The Knysna council is composed of 21 seats. The DA and KIM have now formed a coalition with 10 seats, while the ANC has teamed up with the PA and Southern Cape regional party, the Plaaslike Besorgde Inwoners, to form a coalition with 10 seats. The EFF has one council seat, held by Neil Louw. 

A table displaying the Knysna 2021 municipal election results

(Table by Suné Payne. Information provided by the IEC.)

On Tuesday, the no-confidence motions failed when the EFF’s Louw abstained from voting, which led to the speaker (Julie Lopes) casting the deciding vote. 

During the first council session after the 2021 local municipal elections, Louw abstained from voting for a speaker. This caused the sitting to collapse. 

About Tuesday’s failed vote, PA councillor Waleed Grootboom said: “We blame the EFF.”

Until recently, Grootboom had been part of Levael Davis’s mayoral committee. The PA councillor told Daily Maverick on Wednesday that he was disappointed in the EFF for abstaining. He questioned why a party whose national leaders often made anti-white sentiments would allow “white” people to continue to run the municipality. 

“We had an opportunity to be in charge,” said Grootboom, adding that one of the reasons for the no-confidence motions was the Knysna council’s budget, which he claimed was not pro-poor and “does not speak to the people”. 

Grootboom told Daily Maverick the PA had rejected the budget. 

Another reason was a lack of development for young people in the municipality, said Grootboom. He claimed that a lack of opportunities for post-school young people caused them to fall into, for example, substance abuse. 

DA Knysna constituency head Dr Deon George refuted Grootboom’s claim that the motions were about the town’s budget. 

“It was about positions,” he said. 

George said the motions were only about replacing the government and that there was no reason to remove a  government that was functioning. 

“The town is doing well… you can see it’s visibly doing well.” 

“They will come again,” said George, referring to attempts to remove the DA from power in the popular coastal town. DM

 

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