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DA-led, ANC-led coalitions remain under pressure
Despite managing to pass their 2022/23 budgets, coalition governments in the three Gauteng metros remained fraught. Opposition parties, particularly the ANC and EFF, criticised the budgets and refused to vote for them.
Council meetings faced ongoing disruption from the ANC and EFF, with the DA and the EFF laying charges against each other after the May council meeting was disrupted in Tshwane. ANC leader in Ekurhuleni, Mzwandile Masina, threatened to lay charges against the DA after he was forcibly removed from a council meeting.
After a relative lull in March, opposition parties ramped up the pressure on the DA-led coalitions in Gauteng. The PA threatened to pull out of Johannesburg and Ekurhuleni coalitions after being criticised by the DA while Al Jama-ah brought a motion of no confidence against the Johannesburg speaker.
The ANC had been preoccupied with its regional and provincial electoral conferences in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal but once these were concluded it reiterated its intention to topple the DA-led coalitions.
The DA also faced threats from ActionSA, its coalition partner in Gauteng. The parties disagreed over the choice of city manager in Johannesburg while an ActionSA MMC in the metro faced an investigation by the DA speaker for interfering in tender processes.
ActionSA accused the DA in Tshwane of ignoring tender irregularities and Herman Mashaba threatened to vote out the DA in the metro if the party did not agree to in-source municipal workers. Mashaba also accused the DA in Ekurhuleni of striking a deal with the EFF in order to pass the annual budget.
The ANC faced its own pressures from coalition partners in the Ethekwini and Nelson Mandela Bay metros. Smaller parties in the Ethekwini coalition voted against the ANC’s choices for MPAC chairperson and city manager. In Nelson Mandela Bay, AIM, UDM, GOOD and DOP expressed unhappiness with the mayor and acting city manager.
Mangaung under administration, Nelson Mandela Bay not far off
Mangaung has been struggling for years. The embattled metro was first placed under provincial administration in 2020 for passing unfunded budgets in two successive years. By April Mangaung had been placed under national administration. However, the metro’s council was not dissolved, much to the disappointment of opposition parties and civil society groups.
By May opposition parties had increased their criticism of the national intervention, claiming that it had not resulted in improved service delivery. The Mangaung council postponed its budget vote in May as it had not allowed residents to give their input into the budget process.
Despite the promises from national and provincial government there was no evidence by June that the intervention had improved service delivery or governance in Mangaung. The metro had cycled through four acting city managers since the start of 2022.
The ANC-led Nelson Mandela Bay metro also lurched from crisis to crisis, losing coalition partners over the period. The metro was the only one failing to pass its adjustment budget by the February 28 deadline, and the co-operative governance MEC threatened the metro with administration if it failed to pass its annual budget.
The metro had two acting city managers by April, both under a cloud of corruption. Councillors asked the Gqeberha High Court to intervene, with a judge describing the situation as ‘utterly bizarre’.
The metro failed to convene a number of council meetings over the period as councillors habitually boycotted the meetings. By the end of June, the ANC’s coalition partners were ready to remove the ANC-chosen mayor and city manager.