As the negotiations for political coalitions reach a crucial stage, the DA’s mayoral candidate Herman Mashaba has already set his sights on running Joburg – despite his party losing out to the ANC.
The dust had barely settled on the municipal election results on Saturday when Mashaba and his team met Joburg’s city manager Trevor Fowler to seek clarity on the process around setting up a new council.
In what appears to be a strong hint that he is upbeat about a coalition with the EFF to upstage the ANC in Joburg, Mashaba also allegedly demanded documents about recent appointments to key positions. The alleged move has raised fears of a purge in the metro’s administration, according to a source.
Mashaba admitted that he met Fowler on Saturday but denied that he demanded documents about recent appointments. He said he had merely gone there to introduce his team and to get direction on establishing a new council.
“We went there to introduce ourselves, asking him (Fowler) to guide us on going forward, in terms of how the city proceeds. I can’t afford to lie. It was not for us to demand anything,” Mashaba said on Tuesday.
Fowler also confirmed meeting Mashaba, but said he had merely asked for clarity.
“In that meeting they asked about the process towards the new council and what would happen at the inaugural meeting,” Fowler said.
“It’s unfortunate that such a rumour can be peddled because the council must continue. All it does is create uncertainty among employees and scares them.”
Joburg is to hold its mock council on Thursday, while a council meeting is set to take place between August 16 and 20.
Although Mashaba said he would not purge anyone willy-nilly, he did fire a warning of a shake-up in the metro.
“If I had a social worker running the police, there’s no way I will accept that… If the wrong people are in the wrong positions, they are going to be purged. I am not apologetic about that. The days when they allowed their girlfriends to run state institutions are over.”
While forming coalition governments is proving to be a tough task for the three biggest political parties, the DA on Tuesday gave the strongest indication yet that it could be edging closer towards the EFF.
DA federal council executive chairman James Selfe said they had “listened carefully” to what the EFF had to say when they met and sent them a response. He said they would look for common ground when they meet again this week.
“This is about the municipal elections, and it’s much easier because we look for service delivery, the provision of water, electricity and so on. Ideological or political differences are not as paramount as they would have been in the national government,” Selfe said.
He added they had also met just about all the small parties, including the UDM, Cope, the IFP and Freedom Front Plus. “It’s difficult to say when the talks will be concluded, but we’re hoping by the end of the week.”
He said they would have it easier finding a political ally in Nelson Mandela Bay than in Joburg and Tshwane. “In Port Elizabeth the issue is simpler, because only four votes (seats) are needed for a majority. But there is an opportunity for starting a wide, inclusive coalition.”
Mashaba reiterated the party’s stance of not considering the ANC for any coalition government. “As a point of departure, we are not forming a coalition with the ANC. We campaigned on an agenda that we need change, and the voters have spoken.”
A member of the EFF’s central command team confirmed that they had met both the DA and the ANC.
“We met both the ANC and DA on Sunday. We had our meeting on Monday and we will be meeting the other parties later this week,” the source said.
However, the EFF’s tough stance that President Jacob Zuma must resign as ANC leader and state president could scupper any possibility of a coalition between the two.
UDM leader Bantu Holomisa confirmed he had been approached by both the DA and ANC in Joburg and Nelson Mandela Bay, where his party has seats. He spelt out tough conditions for a tie-up with the ANC.
“The results have given an indication that power no longer lies in the hands of one party. So we can raise issues like party funding, electoral reform and land (reform). We have a crisis where the president is accountable to a small group at Luthuli House or a faction,” he said.
The ANC was not available for comment on Tuesday.