Johannesburg Finance MMC Funzela Ngobeni is upbeat about the new centre. Picture: Simphiwe Mbokazi /African News Agency (ANA)

Johannesburg - Johannesburg MMC for finance Funzela Ngobeni will soon take over the economic capital’s reins from outgoing mayor Herman Mashaba if the EFF supports his candidacy in the metro’s council sitting next week.

This comes after the DA announced its decision to put Ngobeni forward to succeed Mashaba, who announced his resignation as a mayor and from the party, following the election of Helen Zille as DA federal council chairperson.

Ngobeni has long been seen as a firm favourite for the mayoral post, as he is both the DA’s regional chairperson and the party’s acting caucus leader after Mashaba ditched the caucus upon his resignation announcement.

On Tuesday, DA Gauteng leader John Moodey said the party had confidence in Ngobeni’s experience as he - on top of being a long-serving councillor - had been a leader of executive business in the council since January 2018.

“The DA is confident that should he (Ngobeni) be elected as the executive mayor of the DA-led City of Johannesburg, he will continue the good work done by outgoing mayor Herman Mashaba by streamlining services in order to improve the lives of all residents,” Moodey said.

On his resignation, Mashaba accused the DA of no longer representing the country’s future and of being against redress for black people for electing Zille. He also accused the DA caucus in the city of pressuring him to drop propoor service delivery initiatives which were being put forward by the EFF in exchange for its support in council, including insourcing of cleaning staff and security guards.

It, however, remains unclear whether the EFF will support the DA’s candidate in Ngobeni as the Red Berets hailed Mashaba for dumping the DA, which they accused of having turned right-wing. EFF spokesperson Mbuyiseni Ndlozi could not be reached for comment while Ngobeni remained tight-lipped on his nomination.

The Joburg council has 270 seats; the DA currently holds 104 and will need 33 more votes in order to gain a clear majority to elect Ngobeni. The ANC currently has 121 seats which makes the EFF, with its 30 seats, the kingmakers with the deciding vote on who controls the city in the interim, before the 2020 local government elections.

EFF caucus leader in the city Musa Novela said the decision of the party on the new mayor would be decided and communicated by the national leadership. 

The ANC, which was dislodged from the helm of the metro in the 2016 municipal elections, is currently eyeing the council mayoral election with red eyes as it hopes to secure enough votes from other opposition parties – should the EFF not join forces with the DA this time around.

ANC regional secretary Dada Morero said the party was not ready yet to reveal what its plans were for the upcoming council meeting, including on negotiations with other parties.

“We will make a pronouncement at the right time. Right to now we would not like to make any pronouncement on that,” Morero said. The ruling party is likely to field its regional chairperson Geoff Makhubo, who was also the finance MMC under former mayor Parks Tau’s administration.

Mashaba will officially leave office on November 27.

Political Bureau