South Africa


Nonsense and insensibility – an ANC and EFF alignment will be a rocky road

Nonsense and insensibility – an ANC and EFF alignment will be a rocky road
EFF leader Julius Malema. (Photos: Gallo Images / Misha Jordaan / Papi Morake)

A series of public statements by EFF leader Julius Malema has provided perhaps the most detailed explanation of how his party and the ANC are planning to govern metros between them, and how they will continue to use mayors from minority parties. While this may allow certain parties to have much power and little responsibility, there are also strong indications that it will not result in better service delivery.

This strategy may also turn out to be dangerous, not just for voters but for the parties themselves, as they could end up giving executive power to people over whom they have limited or no control. In the long term, this could be a political recipe for disaster.

On Sunday, while speaking in the Free State, Malema told EFF members that he believed the party would win five positions on the mayoral committee in Ekurhuleni. He said this would go with the two positions it has in Joburg.

He said they would follow the strategy already applied in Joburg, where the EFF and the ANC both backed a member of a minority party for the position of mayor. 

As reported by News24, Malema said: “Here, in the Free State, we are negotiating with the Metsimaholo Local Municipality because there we can also go in, but we refuse to go in under the ANC, so we came up with a new strategy now that we would rather have a small-party mayor because we can’t have each other and serve under each other.”

Meanwhile, on Monday morning the leader of the KwaZulu-Natal ANC, Siboniso Duma, told SAfm: “We have started a process at the level of the leadership of the EFF” in eThekwini.

This followed a no-confidence vote in eThekwini on Friday where the ANC’s mayor, Mxolisi Kaunda, survived with the support of the EFF.

All of this now suggests that the two parties are coming closer together in various provinces across the country.

But many questions remain. 

For example, while Malema was spelling out this plan, he also confirmed that the EFF would try to disrupt ANC leader President Cyril Ramaphosa’s State of the Nation Address on Thursday evening. 

This again underscores the tension around this dynamic, around how the EFF can be trying to overthrow the state while working with the ruling party, and how the ANC can even think of working with a party wanting to remove its leader.

There are many other curiosities around this.

For example, if the EFF does get five positions on the Ekurhuleni mayoral committee and retains its two positions on the mayoral committee in Joburg, then it would have roughly the same number of seats divided between the two councils as the ANC.

And yet the ANC has a vastly greater number of council seats in the two metros and won many many more votes. In Joburg, it won more than 33% of the vote, while the EFF won 10.63%. In Ekurhuleni, it won 38% compared with the EFF’s 13.47%.  

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Desperate for power

There appears to be no connection between the number of votes and the positions and the power that the two parties are receiving.

For the ANC’s critics, this might well reveal how desperate it is for power, how it will give equal power to a smaller party, just for a seat at the table. 

But it certainly demonstrates how it almost does not matter how many votes you get — as long as you are able to be included, you will have significant power. 

This must be less than democratic: surely the more votes a party receives, the more power it should have. When parties themselves give up that principle, voters may well see them as not worthy of trust.

Then there is the issue of using a minority-party mayor. This is clearly because both the EFF and the ANC do not want to serve under each other.

But this strategy is incredibly risky.

First, the new mayor of Joburg, Al Jama-ah’s Thapelo Amad, is already the butt of many jokes on social media, and he does indeed appear to be someone who cannot be taken seriously, even by the members of his own coalition. The ANC referred to him as a “transitional mayor”.

This suggests that voters — and anyone paying any attention — understand that he does not have political power. 

But it can sometimes be forgotten that in law, mayors do have important powers. And they can be much harder to remove than it may appear.

While the EFF has been making public statements about the future of Ekurhuleni, it cannot remove the DA’s Tania Campbell as mayor until April. This is because of council rules that forbid parties from bringing no-confidence motions against mayors too often.

It is entirely possible that a mayor from a minority party elected into office by the EFF and the ANC simply refuses to toe their line. For example, the mayor appoints a mayoral committee — what would happen if the two parties elect a mayor, but he simply refuses to appoint their members to the mayoral committee? It could be some time before a no-confidence vote could be held.

Such a mayor may also decide they have had enough of the ridicule and resign at a very inconvenient time, to put pressure on the bigger parties.

Considering that mayors in this position will be aware that this is the only time in their lives that they will hold significant political power, the temptation to abuse it will be massive. They will have nothing to lose.

Also, someone in a mayoral position could spot a once-in-a-lifetime chance to make a name for themselves. One could easily imagine such a person gathering evidence of alleged corruption by members of the mayoral committee and their parties, and then blowing the whistle at the right time.

Such a move could set one up with a political career for life.

The point is, while it may seem as if the ANC and the EFF have control over a mayor from a minority party, they are still giving significant legal power to someone who could turn out to be uncontrollable.

There are other problems too. Considering the personal enmity between the leaders of the ANC and the EFF, and the fact that they say they are following different agendas, small disputes between them could become massive fights.

Even the DA and ActionSA, two parties with roughly the same political agendas, have found it difficult to work together. They also faced the problem of needing to differentiate themselves, create identities distinct from each other and appeal to a particular group of voters. 

As next year’s election comes closer, some in the ANC and some in the EFF will be looking to pick fights, to send signals to voters.

This has the potential to end in a massive meltdown in a council meeting, with councillors of the two parties, in the same coalition, arguing with each other live on TV.

This could cost both parties votes in the longer run.

Of course, it may not turn out this way.

If the national leaderships of the ANC and the EFF believe they are able to work together in provincial and national government, perhaps they could use this period to generate trust between them. If they are able to foster a culture of the two parties working together in local government, it will be easier for them to work together in provincial government after next year’s elections.

This then could turn out to be an important moment, and a chance for them to learn powerful lessons.

If they were able to turn this period into such a moment, and improved services for the majority of local residents, it could easily lead to a more sustained coalition that could win votes.

But, for the moment, most residents are cynical about it turning out that way. DM


Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Miles Japhet says:

    Like hyenas scrapping over a carcass – shameless people who feed off the deliberately created ignorance of the masses.
    A country that relies on a handful of skilled people that the ANC/EFF alliance take for granted in their daily lives which are about to be severely disrupted!!!

  • James Francis says:

    At least we now know without doubt: a vote for the EFF is officially a vote for the ANC. Let’s hope voters remember.

    • David Walker says:

      Spot on James. And the converse is also true. A vote for Ramaphosa is a vote for the mad, thieving racism that is the EFF.

      • Davis Kate says:

        This is so true. How do we get the voters to understand that and make the correct choice. This is the million-dollar question.

        • Peter Wefelmeier says:

          One way to do this is to contribute to the opposition parties, either with money or time. I personally don’t have the time, so looked at my cost of living and now proudly make a small monthly contribution to an opposition party. I am not sure if this will achieve the objective, I highly doubt it in fact, but if nothing else I can at least say I did something tangible. The old expression – talk is cheap, but money buys the whiskey has never been more true.

        • Sibongile Khumalo says:

          You mean like how voters understand that a vote for the DA is a vote for racism?

  • Alley Cat says:

    ANC and EFF in a governing coalition nationally?? My worst nightmare. This will spell disaster for our country.

  • Mike Blackburn says:

    And in the interim, the rate paying residents languish mired in a lack of service provision. What will it take to get local politicians who are more interested in their residents than getting their hands on the municipal coffers?

    • John Smythe says:

      Unfortunately, the only way is to vote all of them out of all provincial and national government. And we know that’s not going to happen. One can only hope that the ANC sees the bigger picture. But that’s not a trait that they’re famous for.

  • Rory Macnamara says:

    so the EFF again insults the voters. what purpose is served by disrupting the SONA speech? Nothing but the prostitutes of politics, the EFF, carry on with their non strategic moves believing they are contributing to the political scene. all they are doing is enabling the ANC to carry on destroying the country.

  • Hermann Funk says:

    We still forbid women to work as prostitutes, but the politicians can do without consequences.

  • Malcolm Mitchell says:

    Malema playing politics again! However service delivery is more related to the competence, or lack thereof by the “executive’ level of government, that is the City Manager and his staff, than to the politicians.

  • Ian Gwilt says:

    The EFF Voters will believe the commander in thief that ends justify the means and that they will have their hands on the levers of power (hands in the till)
    The RET ANC will be more than happy to work with them
    As for Ekurhuleni, if the court bid to prevent the new speaker being appointed fails, then a motion to suspend that pesky rule that keeps the mayor in place until April will be tabled
    It will be accepted and the next motion will be one of no confidence in the mayor.
    Hyena’s 2 Residents of Jhbg + Ekurhuleni 0

  • Sam van Coller says:

    Which Way South Africa?
    Option One – Into the Swamps
    Step One – ANC and Eff co-operate to secure control of major metros except CT
    Step Two – ANC and Eff form majority coalition after 2024
    Step Three – ANC and EFF merge after CR finishes his second term
    Step Four – RET gains control of ANC
    RSA run by crime syndicates
    Option Two – Over the Mountains
    Led by Zongezo Zibi of Rivonia Circle, DA, Action SA, IFP, Maimane’s party and Freedom Front Plus together offer to form government of national unity with ANC
    South Africa finds the green pastures after climbing the mountains

    • Graeme de Villiers says:

      I’ll go for option 2. If the Cucumber in Chief gets his greasy fingers anywhere near the machinations of power, there will be no more mountains, only swamps.
      But by then the trough-feeders will have happily retired in Dubai and won’t have any of that pesky accountability to shirk anymore.

  • Judith Heunis says:

    ….and while all this jostling, games and political intrigue is going on, I cannot see how anyone has time or energy to devote to delivering anything to the public.

  • Anri-Jacques Smuts Smuts says:

    Of course all of of this is a dress rehearsal for the big dance next year when the ANC will probably need the smallest coalition partner that will get it over the 50% bar. The EFF will do nicely and also please the RET faction. Guess who will then become the (aggressive and vocal) vice president?

    • Roland Gemmell says:

      and in steps Mashitile – do you think he will “step down” as deputy president and let Juliarse fill that position – I don’t see this happening – not even for the sake of the ANC – he also just wants “power” – time will tell

  • David A says:

    Julius “The EFF Will Never Work With The ANC” Malema…

  • Anne Chappel says:

    Oh dear, I have just read ‘Days of Zondo’ and I wonder about the likelihood of the ‘high road’ for South Africa. Can someone please tell me the names of ANC people who are deemed to be both clean and skilled in leadership – for the future?

  • Roelf Pretorius says:

    This analysis does not sound good for SA. I sincerely hope that parliament will enter legislation to properly govern coalitions soon.

  • Kerry van Schalkwyk says:

    Obviously there will be no service delivery with an a ANC/EFF coalition – I can think of nothing worse than having two incompetent, obstructive, corrupt, violent, racist & egotistical politicians only in it for themselves. What a disaster & as for that pathetic, intellectually-challenged Jhb mayor, he is the biggest joke of the year! Stephen Grootes treads very lightly around this dangerous coalition instead of calling it out as it is.

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