ANC left bruised, DA galvanised
PRETORIA — The ANC was left bruised and the DA energised, while the EFF emerged as kingmakers following one of the most hotly-contested elections in postdemocratic South Africa.
Support for the ruling party fell to below 60 percent of the votes for the first time since 1994, who only won outright majorities in Buffalo City, Mangaung, and eThekwini.
In Gauteng, the party got 44.55 percent of the vote, the DA 38.37 percent, and the EFF 11.09 percent. The ANC failed to get over the 50 percent mark in Johannesburg, Ekurhuleni, Tshwane, and Mogale City.
The failure of any single party to break the 50 percent mark meant coalitions would be the order of the day for the next five years.
The EFF had said it would not enter into coalitions with the ANC, the party its founding members rejected in 2013. The UDM had said it was prepared to enter into partnerships with the DA, which could see Mmusi Maimane’s party getting an outright majority in Nelson Mandela Bay.
The ANC’s Gauteng chairperson, Paul Mashatile, said the ANC had already been approached by other parties, and had approached others to negotiate possible coalitions.
President Jacob Zuma struck a conciliatory tone and said the 2016 local government elections showed the world that democracy was thriving in South Africa. He congratulated all the parties, including those who gained new municipalities. South Africans were the real victors, and their will prevailed, he said.
“You have shown the world that South Africa is a thriving democracy where differences of political opinion and diverse political preferences are allowed to flourish,” he said in a speech at the IEC’s results centre in Pretoria.
He called on elected representatives to build accessible, caring, and efficient local governments, regardless of which party was in charge in municipalities.
His speech was overshadowed by an anti-rape protest by a group of women. As he spoke, they stood up and displayed placards with words recalling his rape trial 10 years ago. More drama followed when security guards shoved them away.
DA leader Mmusi Maimane gave assurances that the party would not purge any civil servants in the metros where it would take over from the ANC.
“The issue is not your political affiliation; the issue is about making sure that you have the best person to do the job. I’m not out there to purge. There’s this misinformed rumour that the DA is out to purge the municipality. That’s not true,” he said.
The party wanted the best people to do the work, regardless of their race or political affiliations.
In Nelson Mandela Bay there had been “a lot of patronage” under the ANC government, but he said people could still be convinced to do a good job, even if they had been appointed because of this.
Port Elizabeth mayoral candidate Athol Trollip however warned that those who had been appointed irregularly, or who were involved in corruption, would come under scrutiny.
Meanwhile, negotiating coalitions with the EFF looks set to be a drawn-out game of cat and mouse.
While the kingmakers following this week’s local government elections could draw out the negotiations for the full two weeks available, the two bigger parties, the ANC and the DA, hope announcements could be made in the coming week.
Coalition deals were very much the only thing on the lips of politicians on the floor of the IEC’s elections results centre in Pretoria from late Thursday onwards as projections from early results showed the ANC would be below 50% in a few councils.
But a nonchalant EFF spokesperson, Mbuyiseni Ndlozi, said on Saturday these were mere “warm-ups for the party”.
He said, “We have had all types of conversations from the ones who saw the light [that there would be hung councils] much earlier. There have been warm-ups earlier but there hasn’t been an approach. Where there is, we will explain and inform the public.”
Ndlozi said the ‘warm-ups’ were with the DA, with DA chair of the federal council, James Selfe, confirming his party had approached the EFF to talk about Tshwane, which the DA won with 43 percent of the vote against the ANC’s 41.5 percent.
“They are warming up to us because we don’t need —
anything. We don’t have to talk to anyone,” Ndlozi said.
His playing cool does not, however, entirely reflect reality. The EFF, like any political party, does want power – and to be in a position that would allow it to ultimately get more votes in subsequent elections.
Even though Ndlozi said negotiations weren’t yet in the phase where actual bargaining was taking place, in ANC circles a story is doing the rounds that EFF leader Julius Malema had already asked for the speaker position in Tshwane metro council, as well as the mayoral committee member position for roads and transport. This could possibly be to make good on his promises to build roads for Hammanskraal residents.
The party’s 11.7 percent means its numbers could help either the ANC or the DA set up a government there.
Ndlozi was adamant the EFF would never consider coalitions with the ANC.
“The ANC is dying, the ANC must accept that and die. Dying, even in the absence of the EFF. Even if we say ‘now we are closing shop’, the ANC is going to unravel next year,” he said. Ndlozi was referring to the party’s leadership election conference in 2017.
Other leaders in the party have, however, told Daily Maverick that they might talk to the ANC, and there is even a suggestion that struggle stalwart Winnie MadikizelaMandela, long an icon of the EFF, could be roped in to talk to Malema. — Sapa
ANC volunteers, party agents and workers getting soup in Ward 43 in Port Elizabeth. News24