Quarrelling ANC drops Joburg mayoral candidate in back-and-forth scramble to keep EFF coalition sweet
A last-minute compromise by the ANC will see the party’s Johannesburg regional chair, Dada Morero, dropped as its mayoral candidate in favour of Al Jama-ah’s Kabelo Gwamanda.
The past two days have seen political parties scramble to form informal coalitions ahead of the City of Johannesburg council sitting which will vote in an executive mayor on Friday.
This comes after Tuesday’s meeting was delayed for hours due to the ANC’s caucus quarrelling over the mayoral candidacy. This eventually led to the council meeting being adjourned by Speaker Colleen Makhubele.
Daily Maverick understands that the meetings, which were led by ANC secretary-general Fikile Mbalula, first convened on Tuesday evening and went on until 6am on Wednesday. Discussions centred on whether the ANC should field its own candidate for mayor of the City of Johannesburg, caucus leader Dada Morero, or continue with its plan to field Al Jama-ah’s Kabelo Gwamanda.
The bone of contention was that the ANC’s coalition framework is against this arrangement since it states that the party with the most seats in council should lead the municipality.
See how the seat allocation stacks up in terms of the party representation in the metro here:
Although the framework was officially adopted by the ANC last month, the party’s Gauteng structure will not be able to implement this particular rule because of the agreement it undertook with the EFF before it was introduced.
The ANC and EFF joined forces in order to unseat the DA in Gauteng municipalities. However, they were at loggerheads about who would be given the mayoral chain if their plan succeeded. This prompted a decision which has seen minority party members getting an opportunity to govern.
Read more in Daily Maverick: City of Joburg’s attempt to elect mayor stalls again after ANC caucus throws spanner in the works
Another matter that was discussed is the manner in which negotiations are conducted. The sentiment from the region is that they should be involved, instead of provincial leadership being solely responsible for negotiating. This will ensure that regional leadership has a voice in decisions made during these key coalition talks.
The meeting then discussed the ways in which the region can grow its support to avoid having to form coalitions.
The ANC Joburg region is, however, marred by divisions which have trickled down to its branches.
In a letter by regional executive committee member (REC) Terrance Nkosi addressed to Morero and regional secretary Sasabona Manganye, he laments the disunity in the region. The letter was written following Tuesday’s council meeting during which the ANC spent most of its time in caucus meetings.
“Your squabbles have cascaded down to branches and caucus. You are making it very difficult for the REC to function. You are making it difficult for branch executive committees and zones to function. As a result you are making it difficult for caucus to function.
“The biggest loser in all this is the people of Johannesburg. Conference gave us clear mandates on what should be done and that includes winning back the city through working with coalition partners. I was not in the caucus yesterday [Tuesday] but as an ANC member I’m embarrassed by what happened. It can’t be correct for councillors to say and do the things they are alleged to have said and done. The ANC remains the centre and councillors are deployees. The two of you should hang your heads in shame for convening secret caucuses with branch leaders and councillors to work against the collective you lead (the REC),” the letter reads.
Nkosi believes that while there will always be differences in opinion from the members of the party, they should not weaken the ANC.
“It’s not my place to judge who is right and who is wrong. It’s not my place to tell you how to lead. I’m humbly requesting you to put your personal differences aside and put the ANC first. I’m humbly begging you to put your personal differences aside and put the people of Joburg first,” he wrote.
Opposition coalition meeting collapses
ActionSA and the DA are expected to field separate candidates after coalition talks between the two parties were unsuccessful on Thursday evening. ActionSA’s candidate will be Funzi Ngobeni while the DA will stick to its guns with former mayor Mpho Phalatse.
ActionSA called a meeting and invited its opposition bench allies the DA, IFP, Freedom Front Plus and African Christian Democratic Party. It also asked the PA to attend the meeting in the hope that it will ditch the ANC+EFF coalition.
The PA said it would rejoin the coalition on condition that its deputy president, Kenny Kunene, is voted in as mayor and two of its councillors are given mayoral committee positions.
However, this was widely rejected by other partners, with the DA in particular arguing that the party with the most seats should be at the helm.
The DA also requested that the PA publicly denounce the ANC and distance itself from the party. This suggestion was rejected by the PA, with leader Gayton Mckenzie taking to social media to set the record straight.
@OnsBaizaNie shall never distance themselves from the ANC or any other party on the instruction of the DA. We have a right to our own strategy. We will never ever be told what to do by people we hope to topple in the Western Cape. I hope we are clear as the PA.
— Gayton McKenzie (@GaytonMcK) May 4, 2023
In a statement issued after coalition talks collapsed, the DA’s Gauteng provincial chair, Solly Msimanga, set out its dissatisfaction with the PA.
“The DA rejected the demand of Kenny Kunene to be the mayoral candidate and reaffirmed our position that, in order to enter coalition negotiations with the DA, the PA would have to move out of the ambit of the ANC in nine municipalities around the country where the PA is in a coalition with the ANC,” he said.
This means the PA is likely to continue working with the ANC and the EFF.
ActionSA has the backing of other smaller parties, but this will not be enough to ensure Ngobeni is victorious. While the DA alone will also not have enough votes to ensure that Phalatse is yet again installed as mayor.
Read more in Daily Maverick: Chaotic revolving door continues to spin as Joburg gears up for ninth executive mayor in seven years
This will be the ninth mayor of Joburg since 2016. The eight to date are: Parks Tau (2016), Herman Mashaba (2016/19), Geoff Makhubu (2020/21), Mpho Moerane (2021), Jolidee Matongo (2021), Mpho Phalatse (2021/22), Dada Morero (2022) and Thapelo Amad (2023). DM