Pretoria - Tshwane is on a knife-edge heading into the August ordinary council meeting later on Thursday morning.
If the EFF and ANC have their way, Executive Mayor Solly Msimanga will be voted out of office.
The ANC will then put forward its regional leader Dr Kgosi Maepa as mayoral candidate. Should the two parties team up in voting for a new mayor, Msimanga will be history. However, it remains to be seen if the EFF will support Maepa as mayoral candidate.
The two parties collectively have 114 seats in the council. The ANC, which has 89 seats, will have at least 87 councillors voting in the motion.
The other two will not be available; one was recently shot dead in Soshanguve and the other, from Ga-Rankuwa, was jailed for charges related to rape and subsequently expelled from the party.
Together with the EFF’s 25 councillors, this means there will be 112 votes against Msimanga.
There is the possibility that the number could be reduced by one, given the recent resignation of former ANC regional deputy secretary George Matjila as a councillor.
Tiyiselani Babane, the strategic executive head in the office of the speaker, said that as of the end of business on Tuesday, Matjila’s position had not been declared vacant despite his resignation. Maepa was expected to replace Matjila as a councillor.
Whether Maepa is available as councillor or not, the numbers of the EFF and ANC will still surpass the 50 plus one threshold, or 108 of the 214 councillor votes required for the council to remove Msimanga.
The DA boasts 93 council seats, while the remaining seats were occupied by smaller parties that are in coalition with the ruling party. The party DA has indicated it would not field a candidate should Msimanga be voted out because it supports him.
Based on these numbers and in the event that the motion succeeds and the ANC and EFF team up, Msimanga’s two-year reign as the capital’s first citizen and Tshwane House commander will end on Thursday within the walls of the Sammy Marks Council Chamber in the CBD.
Babane said on Thursday’s council sitting was expected to be “a normal one” despite the media hype. “The order of business will continue as normal until we get to the points of motions.”
Political analyst at Tshwane University of Technology, Professor Mashupye Maserumule, said the ANC’s move against Msimanga was a way to get its power back after it lost the municipality during the 2016 municipal polls.
“The ANC wants its power back and is taking advantage of the fact that the relationship between the EFF and DA seems to have deteriorated. That gives the ANC an opportunity to try to exploit the situation and extract as many benefits as possible,” Maserumule said.
He also criticised the DA for failing to run a clean governance in the City. “There have been so many scandals that revolve around issues of qualifications,” he said.
“That puts the DA in a vulnerable position and on the other hand they are no longer in a cosy relationship with the EFF.”
He predicted that failure by both the ANC and EFF to agree on Msimanga’s replacement might result in a stalemate.
“That might give Msimanga a lifeline. He might actually survive the motion of no confidence. For both parties to succeed, it depends on both the EFF and ANC to convince each other to have one position as they approach a motion of no confidence,” Maserumule said.
Recent developments suggested that coalition arrangements had not actually worked successfully in South Africa.
“The EFF and DA coalition was never about service delivery. It was about the EFF wanting to keep the ANC out of power,” he said.
ANC regional spokesperson Bafuze Yabo said the party had announced its chairperson as a credible candidate to take over from Msimanga. By yesterday, Maepa had not yet been declared a councillor. The party was still working hard to get him to replace Matjila.
Yabo said Maepa would be welcomed in council on Thursday.
Asked whether the party had clinched a deal with the EFF to rally behind Maepa, he said: “We don’t have a deal with the EFF. We said we will continue to lobby other parties to vote with us.”
The EFF leader in Tshwane, Moaferika Mabogoane, said: “The main objective is to remove Msimanga. He is not going to be the mayor by the end of tomorrow (today).” He said the EFF caucus was still going to discuss the person it would support for the position of the mayor.
He also dismissed claims that his party councillors would take up any political position.
“We are not standing for any position, be it members of the mayoral committee or chairpersons of oversight committees. We are not available for any position.”
Asked what would happen if the EFF did not agree to vote with other parties on the proposed candidates, he said: “We will just fold our arms and see what happens.”
On Tuesday, Msimanga said the DA caucus would stick by him as the party’s only mayoral candidate.
“I can tell you this without a shadow of a doubt. The DA has assured that the party will stand by the man they put into office. The only man that will emerge as the DA mayoral candidate again is Solly Msimanga,” he said.
He also conceded that if the EFF and ANC could club together, he would be removed as mayor.