National 17.8.2016 07:16 am

EFF, DA cats to be let out of the bag

Democratic Alliance parliamentary leader Mmusi Maimane sits in the Constitutional Court in Johannesburg on Monday, 19 January 2015. Picture: Werner Beukes/SAPA

Democratic Alliance parliamentary leader Mmusi Maimane sits in the Constitutional Court in Johannesburg on Monday, 19 January 2015. Picture: Werner Beukes/SAPA

The country is waiting with bated breath to see if the DA and EFF are getting into bed together, unlikely as it seems – though brand experts say it could work.

The DA and the EFF will both announce the outcomes of their respective coalition talks today – three days before the deadline set by the Independent Electoral Commission.

The DA’s top brass, including party leader Mmusi Maimane, will address the media on coalition negotiations in Rosebank, Johannesburg, while EFF bigwigs including party leader Julius Malema, will hold a media briefing in Alexandra, near Sandton, to “settle it”.

The parties have been locked in meetings in a bid to forge a coalition following the recent local government elections. In several councils no majority was achieved by any party, resulting in hung councils.

Political analyst Ralph Mathekga said both the DA and EFF would use their media briefings to defend their positions.

“Both would want to announce a victory,” Mathekga said, “but the reality is they are equally stranded in no man’s land.”

Neither the DA nor the ANC can form a local government without the EFF in key municipalities. The EFF holds the balance of power in most hung councils, particularly in Tshwane and Johannesburg.

Constitutional law expert Pierre de Vos, writing in his blog Constitutionally Speaking, says if no party wins an outright majority of seats in a council and no coalition is formed in an executive mayoral system, it may 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.” But 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 whose values are too different from their own.

The EFF held its central command meeting on Monday night to make a final decision on coalitions. The DA’s Johannesburg mayoral candidate, Herman Mashaba, told The Citizen yesterday he was in the dark about the coalition negotiations as it was handled on national level.

“Once the negotiations are announced, we will know where we stand. At this point, we are the second-biggest political party in the council.”

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

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

Brand awareness is key

Parties should take lessons and guidance from social media in the aftermath of the local government elections, according to data analytics and software company Brandseye.

The social media monitor warned that branding should be a key component in creating effective coalitions that will satisfy their respective voters. Several coalition governments are expected to be announced today (or not) after parties failed to yield an outright majority for various municipalities, including major metros, at this year’s polls.

“If political parties and media houses are going to be responsive in the new era of South African coalition politics, they should pay attention to social media.”

The EFF could ruin their brand by forming a coalition with the ANC, the company said.

Brandseye claims to have predicted an election result driven by “protest votes” against the ANC, using data collected on social media, which seemed to favour parties such as the EFF.

“If you look at the social media analytics, one of the data points which required interpretation ahead of the election was the high, positive sentiment being directed towards the EFF.”

It said that the ruling party, which suffered the most losses in this election, should have relied more on voter sentiment expressed online, rather than traditional surveys.

“Social media’s strength is that it measures emotion and sentiment when it comes to voters’ attachment to the brand of political parties. A poll conducted by survey cannot quite capture this,” it said.

Last week’s elections and the coalition talks dominated news coverage in South Africa this week, while #RememberKhwezi surpassed the Olympics on social media, according to media monitoring company ROi Africa. It was around this time when EFF spokesperson Mbuyiseni Ndlozi indicated to TimesLive why an EFF-ANC coalition was unlikely, saying there were two reasons why the EFF would prefer not to enter into coalitions with the ANC.

“The first reason is that the ANC are the very people the voters rejected. We cannot put them back into power now.”

The second, he said, was to teach the ruling party a lesson. Untarnished by corruption, according to Brandseye, the EFF brand is better matched with that of the DA, whose brand the company describes as “predicated on technocratic excellence” and can survive such a coalition, despite ideological differences.

“They can join arms with any party besides Zuma’s ANC and still maintain this brand,” it said.

 

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