Kingmakers in Western Cape hung municipalities ultimatum: ’mayor or nothing’
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POWER-HUNGRY parties have set out their stall and issued a firm ultimatum as horse-trading for hung municipalities intensifies – mayor or nothing.
While the DA is rejoicing in its victory in the City of Cape Town, hung municipalities in key economic hubs in the Western Cape forecast waning support which political analysts warn could be dire for 2024 elections.
With municipal councils set to be constituted and councillors sworn in this week, the clock is ticking for the ANC and the DA to conclude talks with potential coalition partners in 16 municipalities.
In the negotiations, the position of mayor is the most powerful chess piece on the table.
The struggle to maintain control will also play out for the province’s five district municipalities.
Having secured an outright majority in only nine municipalities, the DA will have to drive a hard bargain in no less than six of the 16 councils which they previously governed. The loss of control has raised questions around the party’s ability to retain a majority come the national and provincial elections in two years.
Political analyst from the University of Western Cape, Professor Bheki Mngomezulu, said the provincial government could be run by a coalition if DA continues to see decline in support.
“The 2021 results play an important role in the 2024 elections especially if parties don’t correct the issues that led to a decline in their support,” he said.
He said the DA, which prides itself on service delivery was dealt a blow, partly because of what is happening in predominantly black townships where they were failing to deliver.
“The DA could find itself in the ANC’s position where they lost control of the Western Cape because of the internal squabbles. It is possible to have a coalition at a provincial government level if the DA sees the decline it saw this year.”
“How the party handled the Patricia de Lille, Mmusi Maimane and Bonginkosi Madikizela issues is another matter the party has not addressed properly.”
The Patriotic Alliance, which has seats in 12 of the 16 councils, is set to be a key player in some of the more contested councils. Party leader Gayton McKenzie said they would work with any party which would give them the power to enact real change.
In Beaufort West, a former ANC-led coalition government has a 13-seat council where the ANC and DA secured four seats each. The PA, with three seats, would give either party a majority.
McKenzie has his eye on the prize. The party wants candidate, Gideon Gaba Pieterse, to be mayor.
“We will be talking to different parties. Our first meeting is in Theewaterskloof on Sunday with the DA and then another one on Monday for Beaufort West,” he said.
“We have no preference between the ANC and the DA and are in no hurry to enter into coalition agreements either. Previous track records will not be a factor because if either parties did well, we wouldn’t be in this position.
“So we will work with a party that gives us the most power that will enable us to see real change in these municipalities. Beaufort West for instance, the position of mayor – that is non-negotiable.”
The contentious Bitou municipality, which used to only have the ANC, DA and Active United Front (AUF) now has three more parties, each with one seat to make up the council’s 13 seats. The DA with its five seats would only need two coalition partners while the ANC would need three.
Nokuzola “Noksie” Kolwapi, leader of the Ikhwezi Political Movement (IPM) has made her position clear – she will not accept anything less than the mayoral chain.
“We ran our campaign on ’Noksie for Mayor’ and I would rather sit on the opposition benches if that is not on offer,” she said.
“We are willing to work with the DA and not the ANC because they created the mess Bitou finds itself in while the DA only has the stench of it. But what I will not do is take the votes our black constituency placed in us and use them to vote for a white man whose interests won’t be for the predominantly black people I represent.”
In Cape Agulhas, a former DA-controlled council, the Dienslewerings Party (DP) and its two seats or the Freedom Front Plus could ensure a DA-led government.
But DP leader Dirk Jantjies said his party would not work with the DA given its track record.
“The DA only works for certain people and that is why we want to make sure they are not in power anymore. So if we can work with the FF Plus and the ANC to form a coalition government, I would be happy,” he said.
Knysna will also be hotly-contested as independent candidates from the Knysna Independent Movement and the PA who both have two seats and, either the EFF and Plaaslike Besorgde Inwoners, who each have a seat – might form coalition governments with either party.
Former DA mayor, Mark Willemse who was booted out of the party for voting with the ANC, told Weekend Argus talks were under way with one of the two major parties to form a local government.
“Talks are at a sensitive stage right now so I can’t say much but we are busy with that matter,” he said.
In Kannaland, where the Independent Civic Organisation of South Africa (Icosa) has chopped and changed allegiances with both the DA and ANC over the past five years, could see both parties iced out of governance.
With its three seats, Icosa could enter into a coalition with the Kannaland Independent Party to gain a majority in the council of seven seats.
Icosa leader, Jeffrey Donson said a team was set up on Friday to lead negotiations before a final decision is taken this week.
Political analyst from Stellenbosch University, Professor Zweli Ndevu, said negotiations will be tough.
“Previous experience will have to be taken into consideration when parties enter into agreements. We have seen coalitions that are based on leadership position do not necessarily last longer,” he said.
“A more programmatic approach may well work, discuss what needs to be done and that should inform the shape of the coalition government. I don't think what we hear in public platforms as positions of parties will necessarily be rigid approaches they adopt when negotiating.”