Active United Front (AUF) councillor and mayor Peter Lobese
Cape Town - President Jacob Zuma’s sacking of Pravin Gordhan as finance minister and wholesale changes to his cabinet last week were the reasons given by an obscure party, which holds the balance of power in Bitou (Plettenberg Bay), for its decision to boot out its coalition partner, the ANC.

Now the Active United Front (AUF), whose sole councillor is Mayor Peter Lobese, is set to jump into bed with the DA, forcing the ANC into the opposition benches.

During the last local government elections, the AUF got more than 1 000 votes while the DA received 9 000 votes and the ANC 7 700. When the final seat allocation was made, the DA and the ANC each got six seats while the AUF got a single seat.

On Wednesday, Lobese dropped his bombshell, saying relations between his party and the ANC had soured since their coalition agreement was sealed.

In his press release, Lobese also said the AUF and the ANC had not been seeing eye to eye over several issues, including clean governance.

“I join the rest of South Africans home and abroad who are troubled and pained by this ‘rogue’ president to make the point that our country cannot afford this, and nothing must be done to assist him to continue being in office even for one day.

“This includes calling all parties like the AUF who are in coalition with the ANC in various municipalities to act in solidarity with the rest of South Africans and pull out of these coalitions. So we shall too,” Lobese said.

He said it had become “almost impossible to operate with single-mindedness” with the ANC in Bitou.

Lobese claimed that in many instances the ANC had defied efforts to establish a clean administration.

He had hoped that the ANC’s national leadership would intervene but the events around Zuma over the past week had “destroyed” any hope of an improvement in the situation.

Approached for comment yesterday, Lobese said he would instead hold a press conference today in which he would explain his party’s decision.

Meanwhile, acting DA leader in the Western Cape, Bonginkosi Madikizela, welcomed the decision of the AUF.

“In light of President Jacob Zuma having used a cabinet reshuffle to appoint Gupta-loyalists, the AUF has chosen to distance itself from the ANC.

“The AUF further calls on all other parties in South Africa, who are in coalition with the ANC, to do so as well.

“This will be an act in solidarity with the people of South Africa. It is the people of our nation who are worst affected by the cabinet reshuffle, which saw South Africa being downgraded to junk status by the Standard & Poor’s rating agency,” said Madikizela.

ANC Western Cape media liaison spokesperson Yonela Diko said while the party was aware of the press statement from Lobese, nothing had yet been finalised.

“The AUF is threatening to pull out of the coalition. We might lose the municipality. Our partnership with them (AUF) is about delivering services. That is the measure of the success of the coalition. That is why we are happy with the coalition,” said Diko.

He said issues at a national level should not have a direct impact on service delivery in the municipality.

Acting ANC provincial chairperson Khaya Magaxa has since been dispatched to Plettenberg Bay to salvage the coalition.

Coinciding with the Lobese announcement, a by-election took place in Bitou’s Ward 2, a seat previously held by the DA and which was not expected to change hands last night.

“It’s a predominantly DA ward. It is predominantly white but we are confident that we will increase our votes,” said Diko.

Former DA mayor, Memory Booysen, basking in the glow of seeing the ANC booted out of governing the municipality, said the AUF’s decision had caught everyone by surprise.

“We were surprised. We actually gave up, we thought he would limp along with the ANC,” said Booysen.

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Cape Times