Johannesburg - The DA in Johannesburg has resolved not to publicly refute allegations by outgoing mayor Herman Mashaba that its caucus had repeatedly tried to block pro-poor initiatives which were being pushed by the city’s coalition government.
On Monday, Mashaba announced his decision to quit the official opposition and resign as mayor, accusing the party of no longer representing the country’s future. The DA’s federal council is meeting on Wednesday to discuss his resignation and his replacement when he leaves office on November 27.
DA regional chairperson and deputy caucus leader Funzela Ngobeni is viewed by some within the party as Mashaba’s likely successor.
While Mashaba flagged the election of Helen Zille as the party’s federal council chairperson as the last straw, he said his work to turn around the city and deliver services to poor residents had been frustrated by the DA caucus.
This included the DA caucus’ opposition to the EFF’s insourcing programme and its drawing of “artificial distinctions between service delivery in informal settlements and suburbs as a binary”.
DA chief whip Kevin Wax said the party had decided not to directly respond to Mashaba’s accusations and to leave it to the DA’s federal council.
“I don’t want to go outside of what we agreed on how to approach this matter. I would be out of line to do that. The mayor stated his case and I think we need to leave it at that,” Wax said. Several other members of the caucus also refused to speak out on the allegations.
Wax said Ngobeni had outlined the official position of the caucus on Mashaba’s departure.
Ngobeni, who is also the MMC for finance in the city, said the caucus hailed Mashaba for turning the city around within the short period that he had been at the helm.
“The caucus expressed strong appreciation for the leadership of the executive mayor in the significant progress we have made in turning the city’s financial status around, as well as his strong leadership in advancing a pro-poor agenda over the past three years of our term in office,” Ngobeni said.
Ngobeni described Mashaba’s resignation as sad for the DA.
“While every effort was made to reconcile the matter, we have respectfully accepted his decision.
“For now it is all hands on deck for the Joburg caucus, who have already galvanised behind the drive to ensure the DA is firmly grounded in Joburg’s communities on its journey to the 2021 municipal elections,” Ngobeni said.
He said the caucus’s immediate task was to try to reaffirm its coalition relationships and it was working with the DA’s federal executive council to assist it in deciding Mashaba’s successor.
“The DA in Johannesburg is first and foremost committed to serving the people of Johannesburg and remains committed to ensuring the continuity of council business, and we will work with its government to advance transformational change,” Ngobeni said.
While the EFF praised Mashaba’s leadership of the coalition, the party’s caucus leader Musa Novela said they were awaiting the instruction of their national leadership whether or not to continue backing the DA coalition.
The EFF remain the kingmakers in the council as they hold a deciding vote on whether the DA or the ANC takes over the governance of the city.