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Risk increases in coalition-run metros
All five metros with coalitions saw an increase in political risk. In Johannesburg opposition parties continued to attack the DA in council, sometimes physically. In Tshwane the ANC and EFF rejected the coalition’s choice of city manager and the EFF laid charges of bribery and corruption against mayor Randall Williams. Williams’s support for a controversial electricity generation tender also alienated ActionSA.
By late August the ANC and its coalition partners were organising to collapse all three Gauteng metro councils. The ANC threatened a motion of no confidence against Williams supported by the EFF.
Vasco da Gama, the Johannesburg Speaker, was removed in early September by the ANC-led coalition. The DA’s coalition partners asked for his replacement to come from another party, specifically the IFP, but this was rejected by the DA.
The DA and its coalition partners laid a charge against the ANC for allegedly bribing councillors in the coalition to vote with the ANC. Coalition parties punished the errant councillors with both the IFP and the ACDP expelling those who voted with the opposition.
The ANC and EFF then turned their sights to Ekurhuleni and voted out mayor Tania Campbell by end-October after earlier tabling a motion of no confidence.
The ANC and EFF did not completely succeed in assuming control of Johannesburg and Ekurhuleni. The new Johannesburg speaker, Colleen Makhubele, was forced to postpone a motion of no confidence in mayor Mpho Phalatse as the High Court ruled that the extraordinary meeting called by Makhubele, and hence the motion, was invalid.
Although Phalatse was ultimately voted out a couple of days later at the end of September, she successfully challenged her removal in court and was reinstated by end-October. While she was able to reinstate her mayoral committee the ANC-led coalition had voted out the committee chairs that were aligned with the DA coalition and voted in councillors from parties supporting the ANC.
Tensions also emerged between the ANC and EFF in Ekurhuleni, with both parties wanting to vote for a mayor from their ranks. The EFF also abstained from the motion of no confidence against Campbell.
In Ethekwini the ANC struggled to hold together its coalition with a bloc of 17 smaller parties. The bloc itself threatened to fall apart as its members challenged bloc leader Philani Mavundla, head of the ABC and deputy mayor of the metro.
One of the parties in the coalition, ADEC, threatened a vote of no confidence against the ANC mayor. The coalition partners differed with the ANC over the choice of Mpac head. The election of the EFF’s Thamsanqa Xuma to the position seemed to calm the waters as the EFF and IFP broke with the DA to vote with the ANC-led coalition.
In Nelson Mandela Bay the DA and other parties discussed forming a new coalition to remove the ANC but stumbled over the allocation of positions in the new council. The coalition’s chances were boosted by the EFF’s promise of support outside a coalition. The DA signed a coalition agreement with the other parties by end-July.
ANC mayor Eugene Johnson was voted out in late-September but before a new coalition could settle in the ANC proposed that the metro’s governance system be changed to a ward participation system. The proposal was defeated in council but the DA-led coalition feared that the new system would be imposed by the provincial Cogta department anyway.
The DA’s Retief Odendaal was voted in as mayor and Kusta Jack from AIM was elected as deputy mayor by end-September.
Service delivery worsens with loadshedding, water crises in Gauteng and Nelson Mandela Bay
Loadshedding was an ever-present problem over the four-month period. Johannesburg, Cape Town, Nelson Mandela Bay, and Buffalo City all worked on medium-to-long-term solutions to the electricity crisis but most metros struggled with revenue collection and paying Eskom on time.
The October heatwave in Gauteng put the water infrastructure of both the metros and Rand Water under tremendous pressure. Rand Water reduced water supply and eventually water tankers were dispatched across Johannesburg. Tshwane and Ekurhuleni each owed Rand Water about R600-million.
Nelson Mandela Bay continued to flirt with water shortages. KwaNobuhle residents complained about discrimination, claiming that all the community was provided with was a half-filled JoJo tank. The council agreed to water cuts for all households in order to avert Day Zero in the metro. Water leaks cause the loss of 1.5-million litres of water every month.
Many metros were under scrutiny for above-inflation tariff increases in the 2022/23 budget. Water and sanitation charges in Johannesburg rose by 9.75% and by 9% in Tshwane. Tembisa residents rioted in response to electricity price increases in Ekurhuleni.
ANC factionalism, electoral conferences spill over into the metros
ANC factionalism has affected political appointments in the municipalities and much of the political violence in KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape has its roots in factional battles. Provincial elections in the two provinces and in Gauteng exacerbated existing problems of political patronage, corruption and violence.
The corruption in the Gauteng Department of Health had a direct effect on political elections in Ekurhuleni. Gauteng ANC heavyweight Sello Sekhokho, who won contracts worth R2.3-million to supply Tembisa Hospital, is closely linked to ANC Ekurhuleni leader Mzwandile Masina.
Mxolisi Kaunda’s mayorship in Ethekwini was under threat due to ANC factionalism in the province and metro. In Buffalo City, mayor Xola Pakati’s position was threatened by the ANC’s regional executive committee who sought to replace him with his deputy.
In Mangaung, ANC factionalism could trigger by-elections as eight councillors face expulsion from the party for voting with opposition parties. The vote in question was over the suspension of another councillor implicated in the hiring of ghost workers. More ANC councillors threatened to quit in protest at their colleagues’ potential suspension.