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COUNCIL CRISIS

Fourth Ekurhuleni mayoral election in four years will test the ANC-EFF alliance

Fourth Ekurhuleni mayoral election in four years will test the ANC-EFF alliance
Former mayor of Ekurhuleni Sivuyile Ngodwana. (Photo: Supplied) | Former mayor of Ekurhuleni Tania Campbell. (Photo: Gallo Images / OJ Koloti)

The ANC and EFF have come to blows in the Ekurhuleni council, where they’ve been working together for more than a year. Thursday’s vote for a new mayor will test their relationship as opposition parties look to take over.

The City of Ekurhuleni is expected to hold a crucial council meeting on Thursday, 4 April, that will see the election of its fourth executive mayor in less than four years.      

On Wednesday evening, the four biggest political parties, the ANC, DA, EFF and ActionSA, were locked in separate meetings to discuss who they would endorse to become the next mayor as none of them has the majority to pick a mayor single-handedly.

The metro, a key contributor to the economy of Gauteng and South Africa, was under the control of a DA-led coalition after the 2021 local government elections. 

In March 2023, the ANC, EFF and their allies elected the African Independent Congress’s Sivuyile Ngodwana to replace DA mayor Tania Campbell, with 129 votes against Campbell’s 75. Campbell had also been removed in October 2022 but was reinstated weeks later after the ANC and EFF couldn’t agree on a replacement.

The ANC and EFF embarked on a takeover of other municipalities, including Johannesburg, which the ANC had lost to a DA-led coalition in 2021.

Ngodwana was sacked through a motion of no-confidence on 28 March 2024 with 42 votes in favour of his removal and 32 against after the ANC and DA abstained.

A motion to remove Speaker Nthabiseng Tshivhenga, from the EFF, however, failed, with 90 votes for the no-confidence motion and 116 against in the 224-seat council.

Fractured alliances

On Thursday, ActionSA is expected to put forward the name of its caucus leader Siyanda Makhubo for mayor. The party believes he is capable of fixing the “mess” created by the ANC and EFF coalition.  

“ActionSA insists that the city’s finances need to be stabilised, the institutional review rapidly implemented, and quality services delivered to our residents as soon as possible. This will require a stable government based on competence as opposed to political expediency.

“The EFF in government have been a disaster class in public administration and their inability to separate party and state represents a very real threat to democratic norms and principles which govern our local municipalities,” the party said in a statement. 

The DA is, however, unlikely to support the candidate as it wants the council to be dissolved and fresh elections to take place, which it believes is the only way to rescue the embattled metro.    

It’s unlikely to get its way as it does not have sufficient numbers. The same strategy failed in Johannesburg.  

The DA’s caucus leader, former mayor Campbell said: “We have already witnessed the wide-scale collapse of service delivery under the watch of the ANC-EFF coalition. We believe that the election of a new mayor tomorrow [Thursday] will not be enough to undo the damage already done by the so-called people’s government. 

“We continue to serve the residents and put their best interests ahead of political games and fight to rescue Ekurhuleni.”  

The ANC is expected to endorse its chief whip and regional chairperson Jongizizwe Dlabathi for mayor. The ANC has repeatedly argued that it must be given a chance to govern because it occupies the majority of the seats in the council and has the most experience in governance.

The EFF has. however, rejected this argument and instead opted for the mayor to come from one of the minority parties.

EFF regional leader Nkululeko Dunga recently told SABC News, “The ANC wants us to make and accept a recommendation that says we must elect them for the mayorship, which is not in the spirit of democratic principles.”

The ANC’s Doctor Xhakaza confirmed to Daily Maverick that talks were ongoing about who would take over the reins.  

“There’s various engagements and consultations that have taken place. We are not at liberty to share at this stage until all the necessary consultations have taken place and in particular there is concurrence with the upper structures.”  

A final decision would be made by midnight on Wednesday, but ultimately “it is a numbers game”, Xhakaza said. 

The EFF did not respond to requests to comment.

Under Ngodwana’s administration, the ANC and the EFF each took control of five service delivery portfolios, with the EFF holding the crucial portfolio of finance, which was headed by Dunga. Multiple incidents took place pointing to cracks in the duo’s relationship. 

Read more in Daily Maverick: EFF and ANC come to blows in Ekurhuleni amid service delivery questions

In June 2023, the council’s chief whip, Dlabathi, penned a letter to the ANC’s provincial leadership, asking it to reconsider the coalition.  

He warned that the ANC was at risk of losing its support base to the EFF if the coalition remained in place.

Little or nothing was done by the ANC’s provincial leadership. While the ANC National Executive Committee has supported abandoning its coalitions with the EFF, the Gauteng ANC has reportedly been reluctant to act.

It is unclear whether they will mend the relationship ahead of Thursday’s council meeting.

Financial decline

Ekurhuleni has in recent years been on a downward trajectory.  

In 2022/23, the metro received an unqualified audit opinion with material findings, while in the previous three years, it received an unqualified audit opinion. The only other metro to receive an unqualified audit opinion (without findings) in 2021/22 was the City of Cape Town.

Last year, the Auditor-General flagged concerns about Ekurhuleni’s irregular expenditure of more than R20-million and noted the city’s weak internal mechanisms on contract, procurement and supply chain management. 

Last month, the credit rating agency Moody’s downgraded the metro’s ratings further into “junk” status in the wake of the worsening financial position. 

It lowered Ekurhuleni’s long-term issuer (domestic) and senior unsecured ratings to Caa2 from Caa1 and its baseline credit assessment to Caa2 from Caa1, Moneyweb reported. DM

Gallery

Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Bob Dubery says:

    Bah. These so-called coalitions are going to keep on failing. The only thing these parties have in common is removing the incumbent. Once the incumbent is gone and a puppet installed they have plenty to disagree with and will fall out again. I include DA and ASA in this. Those parties seem to not like each other very much. About the only thing they can agree on is that the ANC musn’t be in charge.

    An article in DM yesterday made the interesting point that SOME coalitions do appear to be working. These are the cases where parties don’t just vote together in a moment of expedience, but draw up a proper agreement which they all sign, thus can’t easily walk away from, and which binds them to a shared set of priorities and principles. That means that the coalition has some stability, and also the parties involved spend less time trying to figure out what, if anything, they can agree on and what compromises they will accept, and will have more time to devote to running the City.

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