The big ques­tion fac­ing Cyril and Julius

It’s one thing for the ANC and EFF to com­bine to oust the DA, but can they gov­ern together?

Financial Mail - - BETWEEN THE CHAINS - Ray Hart­ley hart­leyr@ti­soblack­

It turns out that two years is a re­ally long time in pol­i­tics. Back in 2016, Ja­cob Zuma was pres­i­dent. Not a day went by with­out a fresh head­line about the lat­est in­ven­tion of that mar­vel­lous graft ma­chine called state capture.

Julius Malema was Zuma’s sworn enemy. When Zuma rose to speak in par­lia­ment, he was booed, heck­led and cursed. White shirts moved in on red shirts, a lit­tle blood was spilled and Zuma chuck­led on.

It was a sim­pler time, when the bat­tle lines were clearly drawn.

These days, Cyril Ramaphosa is pres­i­dent. When he rises to speak, he flirts with Malema, ask­ing him to re­turn to the fold. The ANC has moved like a large po­lit­i­cal amoeba to en­gulf the EFF’S land pol­icy.

Back then, the EFF went into al­liance with the DA to take three met­ros from the ANC — Nel­son Man­dela Bay, Tsh­wane and Jo­han­nes­burg.

This week, the ANC and EFF got together with the UDM to wrest the Nel­son Man­dela Bay mu­nic­i­pal­ity from the DA mayor, Athol Trol­lip (bar­ring a court re­ver­sal) and, even as this is be­ing printed, are plot­ting to re­move the DA’S Solly Msi­manga from of­fice in Tsh­wane. The ANC’S 89 seats and the EFF’S 25 would give them a slen­der ma­jor­ity of the Tsh­wane metro’s 224 seats.

So the ANC and the EFF could form a ma­jor­ity and ap­point their own Tsh­wane mayor with­out call­ing on the other par­ties.

The same is true of Jo­han­nes­burg, where the ANC has 121 seats and the EFF 30.

That would give them a com­fort­able ma­jor­ity in the 270-seat coun­cil.

They could re­move Her­man Mashaba from of­fice in the metro, where he is tax­ing the res­i­dents to death with huge rates in­creases and new “smart me­ters” that mirac­u­lously record much higher en­ergy con­sump­tion than the old ones — at least in my ex­pe­ri­ence.

But Mashaba is not just a tax-and-spend Demo­crat. He has turned out to be a canny po­lit­i­cal op­er­a­tor. He has kept the EFF on­side with pop­ulist calls for for­eign­ers to be re­moved from the city cen­tre.

Of course, should the ANC and EFF band together and sweep out the DA, they will have to con­vert their Machi­avel­lian friend­ship into some­thing ca­pa­ble of gov­ern­ing. The next mu­nic­i­pal elec­tion is in the dis­tance.

And three years is a re­ally long time in pol­i­tics.

Strange bed­fel­lows: Julius Malema and Cyril Ramaphosa

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