In 2016, through a coalition with a raft of smaller parties including the EFF, the DA was able to install Herman Mashaba as its mayor in Joburg. Picture: Karen Sandison/African News Agency (ANA) Archives
In 2016, through a coalition with a raft of smaller parties including the EFF, the DA was able to install Herman Mashaba as its mayor in Joburg. Picture: Karen Sandison/African News Agency (ANA) Archives

5 most controversial coalitions in the history of SA local governments

By Sihle Mavuso Time of article published Oct 20, 2021

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Durban – Political pundits predict that most municipalities will be left hanging after the November 1 local government elections, forcing parties to negotiate with smaller parties to form coalition governments.

Although coalition governments shot to prominence in 2016 when there were 27 hung municipalities and the ANC was dislodged in the City of Johannesburg, Tshwane (Pretoria) and Nelson Mandela Bay Metro (Port Elizabeth in the Eastern Cape), they have been around since 1996.

Out of all the political parties, the ANC has been able to successfully form a coalition government since 1996 when the country first went to the polls to elect local governments. We look back at the five most controversial ones and how they ended.

The acrimonious divorce between the DA and EFF

In 2016, through a coalition with a raft of smaller parties including the EFF, the DA was able to install Herman Mashaba as its mayor in Joburg. This despite the EFF not being keen on backing him.

After working with him, the EFF grew to like Mashaba so much that when he resigned from the DA and as Joburg mayor, they dumped the DA, handing over the municipality to the ANC which had installed the late Geoff Makhubo after some EFF councillors voted with the ANC.

DA provincial chairperson Mike Moriarty said the party was disappointed and felt betrayed by its coalition partners and some of its councillors who supported the ANC.

The DA was governing the metro through its coalition with the IFP, FF Plus, ACDP, UDM, Cope and ACDP.

“If you think about it, just about every single coalition partner must have voted for the ANC. One of the disappointments is that you talk to the coalition partners and they say ‘don’t worry we are voting for you’ and then you get a result like this. You feel betrayed,” Moriarty was quoted as saying by IOL shortly after they were voted out.

The ANC coalition with AIC (African Independent Congress ) in Ekurhuleni

The AIC, which is centred in Matatiele, on the border between KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape, was formed out of anger by former ANC members who wanted the town of Matatiele to be moved back to KwaZulu-Natal following a demarcation that led to crippling protests in 2006.

Shockingly, the party went into a coalition with the ANC in Ekurhuleni and helped the ruling party to retain the metro.

AIC leader Mandla Galo said one of the agreements was that the ANC government would reincorporate Matatiele into KwaZulu-Natal where residents feel services are better than in the Eastern Cape. Five years later the ANC government has not kept that promise, Matatiele is still in the Eastern Cape, and Galo and his party are now taking the fight to the Constitutional Court.

ANC coalition with the NFP that almost decimated the IFP

In 2011, soon after breaking away from the IFP, the NFP (National Freedom Party) contested the local government elections for the first time. Their impact was felt across KwaZulu-Natal as most municipalities were left hung and the IFP was only left with the municipalities of Ulundi, Msinga and Mtubatuba.

The hung municipalities were split among the NFP and ANC after they formed a coalition that deeply divided the leadership of the NFP. Most senior members of the NFP who were former IFP leaders, such as Maliyakhe Shelembe, were against working with the ANC, but in the end, there were allegations that they were forced into the coalition by the late Zanele KaMagwaza-Msibi.

The coalition later collapsed in some municipalities even before the 2011 – 2016 term ended, slowly bringing back the IFP.

The ANC coalition with the IFP in the City of Johannesburg

Although they are sworn political enemies in KwaZulu-Natal, the ANC roped in the IFP as one of its coalition partners in the City of Johannesburg. That coalition exists to this day and in return, the ANC gave the position of member of the mayoral committee (MMC) for housing to Mlungisi Mabaso, a senior IFP member in Gauteng.

All this is happening while the IFP and the ANC in KwaZulu-Natal are locking horns in Mtubatuba, Abaqulusi (Vryheid) and Umkhanyakude district municipality where they are vying for control.

The ANC is not new to coalition, it started for them in 1996

Riding on the wave of conquering the province of KwaZulu-Natal in the first democratic elections of 1994, the IFP won almost all the municipalities in the first local government election that followed in 1996.

But the IFP failed to win the eThekwini municipality which was the stronghold of the ANC which had returned from exile six years earlier. With the metro hung and the ANC holding the pole position, they were able to form a coalition government with the now defunct Minority Front (MF) of Amichand Rajbansi and the UDM (United Democratic Movement) of General Bantu Holomisa which was a significant player in KwaZulu-Natal before it fizzled out.

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Political Bureau

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