A report in The Star on Tuesday has renewed speculation over the past few days that the EFF are looking to take up administrative positions in local government in Gauteng.
The party famously and unexpectedly decided not to enter into a coalition deal with the DA in 2016 after the local government elections resulted in no party winning a clear majority in either of the major metros of Tshwane and Johannesburg.
EFF leader Julius Malema instead announced the EFF would lend its council votes to the DA to allow them to select mayors of their choosing in both metros. The same arrangement was arrived at in Nelson Mandela Bay, which subsequently saw a withdrawal of EFF support, resulting in the DA being relegated to the opposition benches there and the UDM’s Mongameli Bobani becoming the mayor.
In August 2016, it had widely been expected that a senior member of the EFF, most notably deputy leader Floyd Shivambu, would become either the mayor of Johannesburg or Tshwane, with a DA candidate taking the role in the other metro.
Malema explained at the time that the reason they opted not to do this was because they had not won an outright majority and preferred to play a semi-oppositional role to the DA. The EFF was primarily looking to ensure the ANC was stripped of power, since the ruling party was still being led by Jacob Zuma, who the EFF considered an illegitimate president.
That meant no EFF members became members of either metro’s mayoral executive committee (MMCs) either.
Now, however, in the wake of Cyril Ramaphosa ascending to the presidency of the ANC and steering his party to majority wins nationally and in eight of nine provinces, the picture appears to have changed for the EFF, who appear more keen to try their hand at governance.
Malema went on record earlier this month to say they are ready to assume administrative responsibility, particularly since the EFF was able to swell its support in the recent national and provincial elections. They now have 44 seats in the National Assembly, and are the official opposition in three provinces, up from two in 2014.
If the DA fails to play along with the EFF’s reportedly growing ambitions, the EFF would simply be able to install the ANC in power, as they are the kingmaker party, in a completely new power-sharing deal.
The Star reports that the DA’s Joburg council caucus has already informed some of their MMCs they will have to vacate their positions to make way for the EFF in a new power-sharing deal. They were, however, not able to obtain official confirmation of this, or the exact nature of the deal.
(Edited by Charles Cilliers)