National 16.8.2016 07:46 pm

No coalitions may give EFF ‘more power’

Julius Malema arrives at the EFF Manifesto Launch in Orlando Stadium, Sowet | Image: Michel Bega

Julius Malema arrives at the EFF Manifesto Launch in Orlando Stadium, Sowet | Image: Michel Bega

The EFF may be trying to walk a tightrope of getting other parties to win them over every time a decision needs to be made in council. But they’ll have to tread carefully to avoid a re-run of elections in hung metros.

According to a source that News24 spoke to on Tuesday afternoon, the EFF’s reasons for rejecting a coalition deal with either the ANC or DA is because it might give them more power in the long run.

The source reportedly said: “A once-off coalition deal would give the EFF less bargaining power. Now they have to be bought over every time [before] a budget or by-laws can be approved.”

However, the source cautioned that the tactic might prove to be a difficult balancing act. If the party decides to abstain from critical processes in a metro council in Johannesburg or Tshwane, that would trigger fresh elections due to the inability to pass a budget.

The red berets would reportedly not be keen on this, as another election would prove expensive and the ANC has far more resources to mount a fresh campaign than either the EFF or DA have access to. This would particularly be the case if the full might of the ANC will be brought to bear on one two metros at one time, instead of having to be spread countrywide, as was the case ahead of August 3’s polls.

The EFF may be willing to go for re-election in places like “like Thabazimbi and Rustenburg”.

EFF national spokesperson Mbuyiseni Ndlozi told journalists at the party’s headquarters in Johannesburg that everything would be “solidified” once the EFF speaks.

“Because we hold the key to a lot of classrooms where people are to be taught a lot of lessons,” Ndlozi said. “This is going to be a long window of multiple ongoing talks.”

Numerous conflicting reports about the EFF’s possible coalition plans have been circulating on Tuesday ahead of its announcement on Wednesday afternoon in Alexandra. The ANC had already confirmed that they were turned down, while the DA reportedly remained hopeful that a memorandum of understanding could still be signed on Tuesday night.

Political analyst Ralph Mathekga told The Citizen that both the DA and EFF would use their media briefings to defend their positions.

“Both would want to secure victory,” Mathekga said. “But they reality is they are equally stranded in no man’s land.”

Constitutional law expert Pierre de Vos writing in his blog Constitutionally Speaking says if no party wins an outright majority of seats on a council and no coalition is formed in an executive mayoral system, it would render the council extremely unstable. 

“This is so because the executive mayor and his or her mayoral committee elected in such an arrangement will depend on the support of other parties who would be able to remove the mayor and mayoral committee (or could threaten to do so) whenever it disagrees with anything the mayor and his or her mayoral committee has decided,” De Vos says.

“As an executive mayor and a mayoral committee have extensive powers to run a municipality, it will usually be in the interest of smaller parties to form a coalition with one of the large parties, as this will give them more direct say in the governing of the municipality. “

However, such a move, says De Vos, may be politically fraught as the supporters of a smaller party might feel betrayed by their party forming a coalition with another party whose values are too different from their own.

The EFF held its central command team meeting – the highest decision making body in between conferences–  on Monday night to make a final decision on coalition governments.

The DA’s Johannesburg mayoral candidate, Herman Mashaba, told The Citizen yesterday that he was in the dark about the coalition negotiations.

“Negotiations are handled at national level,” Mashaba said. “Once the negotiations are announced, we will know where we stand. At this point, we are the second-biggest political party in the [Johannesburg] council.”

DA national spokesperson Phumzile Van Damme declined to comment, saying: “My brother, wait until tomorrow. I can’t tell you anything.”

In Ekurhuleni, the ANC seems to have clinched a deal with the African Independent Congress and the Patriotic Alliance.

When approached for comment, Ekurhuleni mayoral candidate and ANC regional chairperson in Ekurhuleni Mzwandile Masina would only say negotiations were still at a “sensitive level”.

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