DOU­BLED-EDGED SWORD

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

Financial Mail - - FEATURE / MOGALE CITY - Claudi Mailovich mailovichc@busi­nesslive.co.za

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

Freddy Mavunda

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