Battle for eThekwini metro heads for round two with opposition parties still insisting on voting the ANC out
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Durban - THE battle for the control of the eThekwini Municipality - the only metro in KwaZulu-Natal - enters round two today, with the limping ANC saying attempts to persuade the IFP to drop its challenge failed elsewhere, thus any further attempts could be futile.
Today’s round is a continuation of Monday’s bruising battle where the ANC (with its 95 seats out of 216) was able to snatch the speaker’s position by electing Thabani Nyawose with the helping of some eight smaller parties, thus notching 103 votes.
However, after some careful tallying of the votes, opposition parties realised that the governing party was vulnerable as it was not able to garner the 112 votes it would require to take over the metro even if other political parties decided to band together.
The IFP, which abstained when Nyawose was voted in, then decided to join the battle and reached a consensus with all opposition parties to back the candidacy of DA’s Nicole Graham in return for having the position of deputy mayor.
Initially, the IFP and the ANC had reached a consensus that they would not contest each other in municipalities where they held majority seats. That would have meant that the ANC could take eThekwini uncontested.
However, the deal soured when the ANC started “betraying the IFP in Vryheid”, forcing members to rebel against their leadership and to field candidates or support opposition parties against the ANC.
Yesterday Graham wrote to Nyawose, asking him what measures had been put in place to ensure that the two ugly incidents that marred Monday’s sitting do not occur again.
Graham said the power failure that plunged the sitting into a crisis and the subsequent security breach by rogue ANC supporters were suspicious.
This is in reference to the incident on Monday when the gigantic marquee pitched at Moses Mabhida Stadium to accommodate the council’s sitting was plunged into darkness following a power failure.
Prior to that, opposition councillors accused their ANC colleagues of trying to avert “their looming defeat by raising endless points of order”. The to and fro went on until the power failure, forcing Nyawose to adjourn the sitting.
“It is critical that democracy prevails and that a lawful and legitimate meeting can go ahead to elect the remaining council office-bearers,” Graham said in her letter.
Late yesterday, the municipality announced that it has decided to dump the Moses Mabhida Stadium as the host venue for the council meeting and said the new venue would be the better-resourced (with a backup generator) and secure Durban International Convention Centre.
Despite rumours that the ANC was considering appeasing the IFP by withdrawing Mxolisi Kaunda as its mayoral candidate, the spokesperson of the ANC in the province, Nhlakanipho Ntombela, dismissed this.
He said they hadn’t held talks with the IFP since a failed meeting in the Moses Mabhida region ahead of the sitting of the Msunduzi (Pietermaritzburg) council. He said they were going ahead with Kaunda as their candidate.
A political analyst from the UWC, Professor Bheki Mngomezulu, said in the event that the sitting of the council failed and the Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) was forced to call a rerun, the ANC could do much better but even that would be dependent on the voters who decided to punish it by abstaining on November 1 when the country went to the polls.
“Some of the supporters of the ANC who decided to punish it by abstaining from voting have come to realise that the consequences include losing municipalities which mean a loss of jobs and positions for some of them and their relatives. So the ANC can do much better than before if there is a rerun,” Mngomezulu said.
According to the guidelines of the IEC, municipalities were to conclude their council elections by yesterday and districts municipalities early next month.