Insisting on people above party in the no-confidence vote against Jacob Zuma has led to entanglements in local councils — and the EFF’S defiance of its national leaders has added another twist in Mogale City
On Tuesday July 11 the EFF members of the Mogale City council were not wearing their usual red overalls. The party’s caucus, dressed demurely and led by Smanga Mkhumbeni, sat in the small council chamber amid tight security. The council meeting was being held, for the third time since the contentious election of an ANC mayor in June, to pass its budget.
The situation seemed almost intractable. The budget had to be passed to ensure that the municipality, on Gauteng’s West Rand, was not put under administration. But matters had become difficult after the ANC’S Patrick Lipudi took the reins from former DA mayor Michael Holenstein.
For two council meetings 38 ANC councillors sat in frustration as they failed to make a quorum, with fewer than 50% of the councillors at their disposal. The 39-strong voting bloc of the DA, EFF, Freedom Front (FF) Plus and IFP had boycotted the sittings after the ANC reclaimed the mayoral seat, despite not having the necessary majority among its own members. It is thought that at least one DA member had voted for Lipudi.
On July 11 all the parties attended the meeting. But the DA walked out before it ended, while the EFF, FF Plus and IFP stayed.
Passing the budget was, however, not a given. It seemed Mogale City would probably be put under administration by the provincial government, which would mean new elections within 90 days.
The council was already almost two weeks late in passing the budget and the integrated development plan. A municipality can be put under administration if a budget is not passed by July 1.
That was exactly what the EFF wanted. Julius Malema told journalists his party wanted its councillors to boycott the meeting and allow the council to be dissolved, so that Mogale City voters could give the dysfunctional council a clearer mandate than merely a one-vote majority to either the coalition voting bloc or the ANC. This, he said, would make it more difficult to try to “buy” only one councillor to swing decisions.
His party’s councillors decided otherwise. Mkhumbeni sounded almost anguished as he told the council: “From the EFF’S side, we cannot reject a budget that will incorporate our submissions. We cannot reject a budget that will better our people’s lives.”
Cheers erupted as the EFF gave the ANC the necessary votes, with the councillors defying the clear instruction from their national leadership. They were guided by conscience and the importance of upholding their oath of office, a councillor told the Financial Mail.
For the second time Mogale City had emphasised the faultlines for an opposition party running a national campaign to unseat the ruling party, while handling the realities of being in a local municipality.
The EFF has preached a message of people above party to ANC MPS ahead of the parliamentary motion of no confidence in President Jacob Zuma. The EFF councillors in Mogale City heard that message loud and clear — and voted the ANC budget through.
The ANC had gained its grasp on power in the municipality by saying the coalition partners and EFF were hypocritical in wanting a secret ballot in the motion of no confidence against Zuma, while opposing it in a vote of no confidence against the DA mayor in a local municipality. The multiparty coalition begrudgingly said it was not opposed to it. The vote then took the form of a secret ballot, a councillor was “turned” and the shaky coalition lost power, leading to an
ANC mayor being installed. But then the
ANC was not strong enough to pass the budget until the EFF members decided to join in.
Malema was scathing about the EFF councillors — four of the nine have faced disciplinary hearings. Two more hearings are to take place in August. “They not only attended, they voted with the ANC. This is not comparable to voting for a secret ballot in parliament. In parliament we say to people, vote against the corrupt thief who has been slowly stealing the money of the people. In the local municipality we say to our people, don’t vote for corrupt thieves to regain the public purse, and you go and give the public purse to criminals, saying you were using your conscience. That’s a rotten conscience, which we don’t need,” Malema told journalists at a press briefing.
The EFF, he said, had it on good authority that two of its councillors were allegedly paid by the ANC.
Officially, for the EFF councillors it was about land for the people, development for the poor and service delivery. The councillor to whom the Financial Mail spoke said community members had given a clear message: make sure that you pass that budget.
What it means: If the budget hadn’t been passed, Mogale City would have been put under administration