ANC-DA coalition collapses in small town
The only ANC-DA coalition government in South Africa, in a little-known municipality in the Western Cape, has fallen apart after the ANC expelled its mayor and deputy mayor in the area.
Kannaland’s ANC mayor, Magdalena Barry, and her deputy, Phillipus Antonie, have approached the courts to overturn their expulsion with immediate effect. Both were recalled by the ANC’s Western Cape provincial secretary, Faiez Jacobs, on Wednesday.
The hearing on the termination of the two ANC councillors’ membership will be held this week.
An added twist to the saga is that neither the ANC’s national nor its provincial leadership was officially informed when the two entered into this highly unusual cooperation agreement after the August 2016 local government elections.
It is understood the deal was brokered to keep out the previous governing party, the Independent Civic Organisation of SA (Icosa), following a fallout between that party and its former alliance partner, the ANC.
The Kannaland DA-ANC partnership came to light as the Economic Freedom Fighters was criticised for lending its councillor numbers to political parties to clinch several municipalities across South Africa.
Such deal-making places power politics in local government in the spotlight. In Kannaland the council was always precarious: the DA and ANC held two councillor seats each, while Icosa held three. By joining forces, the DA and ANC ousted Icosa, which had won 48% of the vote in the municipal polls.
Kannaland municipality includes the four Southern Cape towns of Ladismith, Calitzdorp, Zoar and Vanwyksdorp, which are mainly farming communities.
Jacobs told City Press that Barry and Antonie were “recalled” because of the vastly different policies espoused by the ANC and DA. He confirmed that the politicians entered into the deal without authorisation by ANC national or provincial structures.
The regional leadership was given four months to exit the coalition because there was no working agreement between the two parties, added Jacobs.
He said the ANC provincial executive committee found this relationship untenable, given the two parties’ fundamentally different ideologies.
Jacobs admitted that “lots of corruption ... had happened [in Kannaland] in the past”, adding that it was the ANC that had called on the national government to help clean up the municipality.
Bonginkosi Madikizela, the DA’s newly elected Western Cape leader, said while the coalition with the ANC was not ideal and had not been approved by DA leadership structures, it was functional in that services were delivered to the people.
“The provincial Cabinet is discussing Kannaland’s recovery plan today,” he said on Wednesday.
“Although the move had no blessing from leadership, service delivery is happening. We had a choice to pull out of the coalition, as the ANC did, but we did not [do so] because that would have left Kannaland in limbo.”
City Press has seen the notification sent to the two ANC members. But this is not permissible in terms of the ANC Constitution, as no disciplinary hearing took place.
The expelled mayor and deputy were overseeing an investigation by the municipality implicating fellow ANC members in alleged corrupt activities.
Barry and Antonie say this is the reason Jacobs expelled them as they are in a different factional camp to those being probed.
Madikizela confirmed that an official probe was under way. “The ANC is trying to prevent the investigation because its members are implicated,” said Madikizela about the ANC’s withdrawal from the coalition.
In a bizarre twist, Barry has opened a case of fraud with police. According to a source, SMSes and letters were distributed, stating that Barry had resigned as Kannaland mayor. This was days before the “recall” by her party.
Barry would not respond to City Press’ questions, saying she wanted to talk to the party leadership first.