What has been a seismic week for the ANC following a shockingly dismal performance in the local government elections has seen the party nursing a brutal headache as it sets out to enter a new terrain of coalition talks, particularly in eThekwini Municipality.
Prior to this week’s ward and municipal elections, the ANC had an outright majority of 56% in eThekwini which it had amassed in the 2016 elections. However, Monday’s elections saw them suffer a spectacular drop of 14% leaving them on 42%.
Nationally, the ANC’s support dropped to 46% from the 53% it attained during the 2016 local government elections.
The party’s provincial leadership has been at pains to outline its conditions for entering into coalition with any party, with provincial chairperson Sihle Zikalala saying they would not dare enter into a coalition with a party that does not subscribe to the ANC’s non-racial and non-sexist principles.
However, the dire situation that the ANC faces in eThekwini was not lost on Zikalala as he acknowledged that coalitions were often fraught with instability which subsequently adversely affected service delivery.
“Any party that embraces racism or gender inequality will not be able to work with us. Going forward, we will be guided by the principle of stability because we have seen from the previous administration of local government that most of the municipalities that were led by coalitions experienced instability,” Zikalala said.
Paramount for Zikalala was a yearning for a sense of stability, service delivery and clean governance, regardless who the ANC partners with.
He said that such principles were guided by both their political perspective, the Freedom Charter and their manifesto as the ANC, although he admitted that they were not in a position to say which party they would engage or which party they would not engage.
Zikalala’s sentiments on coalitions were also echoed by Nhlakanipho Ntombela, the ANC’s provincial spokesperson, who told Independent Media that they had been clear and consistent that they would engage in coalitions with parties with shared values.
“The experience of coalitions in Tshwane, in Johannesburg between the DA and the EFF have told you that the antagonistic views and the serious level of contradictions because of policy positions of those parties might not be a tenable alternative for you. Those are the things we’ll need to consider,” Ntombela said.
In municipalities in the north of KwaZulu-Natal where they were the official opposition, such as eMadlangeni, Abaqulusi, uPhongolo, Jozini, Big Five Hlabisa, Mtubatuba, uMfolozi, Mthonjaneni, Nquthu, Msinga, Alfred Duma, Okhahlamba, Inkosi Langalibalele, uMlalazi, eDumbe and Nkandla they could opt not to enter into coalitions, but remain opposition and regroup.
“What is a priority to the ANC is that if we are going to go to that stage of engaging in a coalition, it must be with political parties who have got sort of shared ideals and values of what we want to achieve in eradicating the triple challenges of poverty, inequality and unemployment among our people and redressing the backlogs of apartheid.
“Those are the basic issues we will have to take into consideration if we do reach that stage,” Ntombela said.
The IFP’s Narend Singh said that their reasons for coalitions would be to ensure that service delivery takes place quickly within the municipality and that they would need to work with partners sharing the same values, vision and mission as the IFP.
“Citizens deserve a government to be in place, we cannot leave municipalities hung for a long time. When budgets are passed that’s when service delivery takes place,” Singh said.
On coalitions, DA provincial leader Francois Rodgers said that they had always made clear that they would entertain negotiations, whether on co-governance or coalitions.
“We would certainly look at any political organisation that’s going to put the interests of the people first, particularly when it comes to local government. We’ve made it very clear that at no stage will we consider the EFF, but the rest we will certainly consider,” Rodgers said.