The Democratic Alliance’s (DA) refusal to work with ActionSA leader Herman Mashaba in a coalition minority government has, effectively, handed the opportunity to run the City of Joburg to the ANC.
And, if Mashaba retaliates by not supporting the DA in Tshwane, the ANC could also effectively get the same opportunity in the capital city.
On Saturday the DA confirmed that it would be wheeling out its own mayoral candidate in Joburg, destroying any opportunity of a coalition-led minority government with Mashaba as mayor.
The newly constituted council sits for the first time today and is tasked with electing a mayor and speaker. In Tshwane, the DA cannot install a mayor without the support of an ActionSA-led coalition.
Former deputy director of the DA and political commentator Russel Crystal said: “Right now, the DA and ActionSA find themselves facing a very similar dilemma. If the DA does not support Mashaba for mayor of Joburg, they will be blamed for handing over the city to the ANC. If Mashaba decides to retaliate in Tshwane for the DA’s decision in Joburg and decides not to support the DA candidate for mayor in Tshwane, ActionSA will be blamed for handing that city over to the ANC.
“This goes to the core of coalition arrangements. If the anti-socialist coalition is seriously as committed to keeping the ANC out of power as they state, all parties to that coalition need to reach an agreed-to solution that is acceptable to all the parties involved.”
Crystal added: “So if they hand the keys to Joburg to the ANC, but Mashaba chooses to keep his coalition-word in Tshwane, it’s ActionSA who will hold the moral high ground.”
This while Mashaba accused the official opposition of exactly that – duplicity, skullduggery and negotiation in bad faith.
“Need I remind you of the discussion Helen Zille had about staying as a 20% party and working with the ANC,” said Mashaba, who also accused the DA of not playing open cards by insisting to meet all opposition parties separately last week.
“They (DA) seem to be going about this as a lone ranger yet bang on about forming stable governments. With whom, I can’t really tell, and other coalition partners are equally angry.”
Mashaba believes the DA has betrayed its voters as well as coalition partners.
Chair of the DA’s Federal Executive Zille denied Mashaba’s accusation, saying the party was clear about its position, and that included not entering unprincipled coalitions that need the EFF’s support to survive.
“We could have had a stable majority opposition coalition but the Patriotic Alliance and the IFP pulled out and went to the ANC. They handed the keys to the ANC.
That changed the situation completely. It made the coalition dependent on the EFF. And we undertook to the voters that we would not do that again.”
According to Mashaba, there is no love lost between the DA and ActionSA. He called the party “extremely dangerous and divisive” and reprised Zille’s snubbing of his handshake at last week’s coalition talks.
But Zille said: “This has nothing to do with Mashaba, the person. He tried to make it about himself by offering to withdraw and put up another candidate from his party. Corne Mulder from the Freedom Front Plus took him up on it. Not the DA. Then he withdrew his offer saying that
ActionSA did not support it. I had nothing to do with the offer or the response to it.”
Former DA leader Tony Leon weighed in, saying that bad blood often pulses through the veins of the body politic. A minority government in Joburg has failed before and Leon said that the electorate has dealt the cards, and now the parties must play the game.
“A little less of the ‘I’ factor would be more appropriate as at the end of the day you have to get the best deal for the voters that you represent.”
Crystal said that “by putting up their own mayoral candidate, simply because they have more seats than ActionSA has, the DA is simply ensuring Mashaba cannot become mayor under any circumstances, thereby delivering Joburg into the grubby hands of the ANC and its salivating hangers-on.
“The DA needs to face the real-world situation it helped create by failing to convince most voters to back them and now needs to keep its promise to those that did vote for it to at least diminish the destructive impact of the ANC.”