Tebogo Khaas sets out some of the challenges in our subways as a result of the precarious arrangement between DA, ActionSA and EFF.
The historic lesson of the 2021 local elections is undisputed: the ANC was rejected at the polls primarily because it is corrupt, in turmoil, and has failed to deliver on many of its lofty promises made over the years.
Coalition governments have emerged as an antidote to decades of ANC hegemony and pride. Whether this signals a permanent and tectonic overhaul of our politics and, ultimately, keeping our Constitution promises remains a colossal unknown. Let me explain.
In the wake of what is considered a decisive municipal election, the first rounds of the coalition government have been fired. What about all the subways in Gauteng and probably KwaZulu-Natal, former ANC strongholds, falling under the “silt in place” agreements led by the DA at the instigation of the? EFF? The ANC surely knows full well now that shouting “Viva Mandela” or marching revered ANC chairman Cyril Ramaphosa is no longer a viable campaign strategy.
“Smart blacks” and tired ANC supporters like everyone else who want safer streets; a reliable and affordable supply of electricity and water; clean neighborhoods; well-maintained roads and public infrastructure; no longer see the ghost of Verwoerd, FW de Klerk or the bigot Helen Zille behind DA candidates like incoming mayor of Johannesburg Mpho Phalatse and Tania Campbell of Ekurhuleni.
To understand the urgency for the incoming DA administrations in the newly created suspended councils, it is important to be clear about how the DA has been plunged into a brash arrangement and what this may portend for him and the affected communities. .
First, there are deep ideological differences between the EFF – Machiavellian capitalists who claim their adherence to Marxist-Leninist philosophies, and the instigators of the arrangement – on the one hand, and the DA – the supporters of neoliberalism and the fortuitous beneficiaries of “vat en sit” arrangements, on the other hand.
If the DA sanctions the provisions, the decision is not without risk for it.
At this crucial point, the DA needs the political dexterity and maturity to balance the need for stability and political independence in the subways it runs. If he moves too cautiously to mark his authority, he could fuel the ubiquitous psychological dynamic that may already be taking hold: the DA, like Action SA, dances to the whims of the EFF. This could fuel a spiral that creates discontent within himself and among his other trusted partners, such as Freedom Front Plus.
But if the DA accelerates the pace of asserting its authority, the risks are also opposite.
It could reinforce perceptions of it as crude and insensitive to the expectations of its partners, whom it critically needs to pass budgets and hang on to these subways.
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Second, one could not have conjured up a more explosive constellation of corrosive leadership figures such as the trio of Julius Malema of EFF, Helen Zille of DA and Herman Mashaba of Action SA.
Their unbridled egos and earthy features are constantly on display.
The DA has officially ruled out any possibility of working with the EFF. He accuses EFF of bribing his former Johannesburg mayor, Herman Mashaba, the last time the DA took over town hall.
Likewise, the EFF always hurls choice and caustic words against the DA leadership. This is unlikely to change.
The greatest risk to the formation of stable administrations where the DA rules at the behest of the EFF and ActionSA lies in the unpredictability of the EFF to whose political whims Mashaba dances easily and unashamedly. This could precipitate endless motions of no confidence.
Forced marriage of convenience
Now the DA finds himself under the same Egyptian cotton sheets with a party he hates. They might find the coitus of the first few nights therapeutic, but it remains to be seen if and how long this forced marriage of convenience will last.
Third, the basis for this arrangement is fragile.
The EFF, having been snubbed by the ANC during their coalition talks, and ActionSA, whose leader is on a personal crusade against the ANC, voted for the DA out of spite for the ANC.
Some experts argue that the ANC’s losses in the Joburg, eThekwini and Ekurhuleni races, where many conflicting issues were a factor, should not be extrapolated to generalize about the ANC’s fortunes in future local elections. I am swayed.
It is often easy to dismiss individual polls which may or may not be correct – but one cannot dismiss a clear electoral trend: ANC leakage was disproportionately higher in large cities, and the idea that disgruntled voters of the ANC will be an ordeal eager and ready to restore its electoral fortunes in the future is not sustainable. There are brutal headwinds awaiting the ANC.
For starters, it is widely accepted that it was the insistence of NEC member Nkosazana Zuma that the venal and inept outgoing mayor of eThekwini, by the name of Mxolisi Kaunda, be nominated for the ANC candidacy for the post of mayor. It was despite the ANC’s commitment to the IFP earlier that it would not. This upset the agreement between the two parties in KZN. The IFP naturally felt betrayed by what it perceived to be the arrogance and deception of the ANC. It simply indicates a lack of integrity and loyalty to ANC commitments.
Let us not forget that, while still mayor, Kaunda tacitly encouraged or overlooked the looting and chaos that devastated eThekwini in July. His cronies are also believed to be the source of the disruption in the voting process when he sensed his ouster ahead of the vote earlier this month.
Further, the ANC’s allowing some of its NEC members to join protesting employees outside of a meeting called to ratify and implement coalition agreements on the eve of crucial voting councils in the whole country reveals the depravity of its leadership.
My constant retort is that South Africans have been left homeless to suffer in the rain of corruption, injustice, neglect, arrogance, incompetence and poor service delivery. the ANC for too long.
Since 2016, voters have gradually turned against the ANC and rejected its timid embrace of the urgent need to change and live by its core values.
Ramaphosa and the ANC are in the last-ditch lounge. He must reorient the ANC towards its founding values in order to save its presidency and keep the party relevant. He should follow his instincts and listen to the centrists within his party, push back the RET faction and recommend that the ANC tackle the growing socio-economic problems people are facing.
Many disgruntled ANC supporters see inaction in the face of rampant corruption and internal unrest within the party as the heart of the current crisis. This, in their mind, requires immediate attention.
Tackling internal issues head-on will likely mean connecting with the immediate needs and anxieties of voters ahead of Ramaphosa’s decisive test in 2024. His success in repairing the party and his administration is electorate enthusiasm. And if the ANC does not evolve, stay on its current trajectory and continue to pamper the corrupt and inept in its ranks, it could, as happened with Cape Town, not only say goodbye to the exploitation of key metros across South Africa for a long time, but could also lose control of the National Assembly in 2024.
As a successful businessman, Ramaphosa was adept at building partnerships and a multi-billion dollar business empire. This is the leadership we need now. From time to time, leaders tend to fall back on their party’s narrative.
With the spotlight now on Phalatse – as the first female mayor of South Africa’s largest city and economic hub of Africa – her success hinges in large part on the support she will receive across the political spectrum. . It would be a masterstroke if the DA were to infuse non-partisan advisers into its mayoral executive council and give it carte blanche to engender a more consultative style of management that would ensure fair and responsible representation in the city.
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While the economy and employment are now the main national problems, backlogs in service delivery, increasing statistics on crime, pandemic and local economic development generate basic concerns about race, creed and political affiliation. At this point, it doesn’t matter which party or leader is at the helm of the City of Gold as long as it regains its lost luster, allure, and promise of abundant opportunity.
And like in all suspense thrillers, this storyline is not over yet. There could still be twists and turns to come.
To begin with, the DA may choose to reject the “forced” arrangement at the next council meeting despite the EFF. Also, EFF and ActionSA could watch for closure at key times, such as when city council members are appointed just for control. And so, we could be heading for a steamy and tumultuous journey ahead.
It would be remiss of me to let a moment of levity pass.
In their wisdom, DA leaders Helen Zille and John Steenhuisen scrambled to protest Mashaba for trying to force the EFF through the back door. And what did the EFF do? They entered through the front door to claim their seats at the table. Now it doesn’t matter if it was John or someone else o-vul’igate. Do it with, Hélène!
– Tebogo Khaas is a political commentator and director of Public Interest SA.
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