Johannesburg - Opposition parties in coalition at South African municipalities were adamant on Wednesday, that their partnership was going well, despite problems at Eastern Cape’s Nelson Mandela Bay (NMB).
Leaders of the Democratic Alliance (DA), African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP), Freedom Front Plus (FFPlus) and Congress of the People (Cope) briefed journalists on the status of coalition partnership at Gauteng's Tshwane and Johannesburg and NMB.
DA leader Mmusi Maimane cautioned that the absence of representatives of the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) and the United Democratic Movement (UDM) at the briefing was due to commitments, and that they were still on board with the other parties.
Cope president Musioua Lekota lashed out at UDM's Mongameli Bobani from the Nelson Mandela Bay, adding that Bobani's conduct at that council went against the agreement reached by the coalition partners after the 2016 local government polls.
"There has been no problems with the UDM in any other municipality where we co-govern. A decision was taken by the NMB executives that all members and [mayoral committee members] MMCs should not use blue light vehicles because they drain resources....Bobani decides he will use the blue lights whether the mayor or any of the MMCs use the blue lights," he said.
"So what should the other parties say? Just say 'ja baas'? This is wrong because it gives an impression of a coalition leadership that is extravagant with public resources. Furthermore, when there is an issue to vote on in council, he goes and votes with other parties...why should we be blamed? The party that deployed him carries that responsibility to tell him to respect the collective decision of coalition partners...this problem is common to the NMB only...if someone says we are wrong, please point that to us."
The ongoing tension between the axed deputy mayor Bobani and DA mayor Atholl Trollip has shaken the Nelson Mandela Bay party coalition, with Trollip surviving a motion of no confidence vote last week as attempts to remove him raged on.
Lekota rubbished reports that the DA was using strong-arm tactics against other coalition partners, especially at NMB.
"We came into coalition voluntarily, if there is nothing we agree on, we can pull out and leave," he said.
The leaders said they were satisfied with the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) decision to not be part of the coalition, but vote with the opposition against the African National Congress (ANC) on issues as they are presented in councils.
"The EFF has made their position very clear, and we are all very clear on that. We all agree that we cannot allow metros to be used as ATMs and for corruption to continue. We have a programme we agreed on, and that is why the EFF does not occupy any executive positions, they stated that upfront," said Maimane.
Lekota said although the parties were not worried about the EFF not being part of the coalition, he believed the red berets would do better if they were coalition partners.
"They were particularly cautious and did not want to commit themselves to a coalition, and that they would vote on issues they are comfortable about. That is a good thing...we believe that as time goes on, the EFF will discover that it would serve South Africans better, if they formed part of the coalition and participate in implementation of policies."
ACDP leader Kenneth Meshoe said the future of South Africa lay in a coalition government.
"We believe that multi party governance is the way to go. There are more checks and balances when you have people from different organisations accounting to one another and ensuring that what we do as parties is in the interest of South Africans. The problems we have today would be minimised if we had another party alongside the ANC speaking out, but because we have one party at the helm, they are able to do their own thing as a party in power."
He added that although there were problems in the coalition, the parties were doing well and would work hard to ensure that the ANC loses the majority vote in the 2019 general elections and make way for a multi party government.