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Coalition chaos continues
Political instability persisted in all five metros with coalition governments. The DA-led coalitions in all three Gauteng metros remained under attack from the ANC and its coalition partners, but the disagreements between the ANC and EFF gave the DA and its partners a stay of execution in Ekurhuleni.
In Johannesburg the ANC-aligned coalition maintained the pressure on mayor Mpho Phalatse with repeated threats of motions of no confidence. Phalatse confirmed that the DA’s Federal Executive had rejected a coalition with the EFF, raising the risk of her removal.
The PA was essential to any coalition in Johannesburg and the DA-led coalition was in discussions with the party to bring it back into the fold. The PA ultimately rejected the DA’s offers and voted with the ANC-led alliance in January to remove Phalatse. Phalatse was voted out and Al Jama-ah’s Thapelo Amad was voted in as the new mayor.
Tensions increased in Tshwane and Ekurhuleni between the DA and ActionSA. Tshwane received an adverse audit for the 2020/21 financial year, leading ActionSA to threaten to leave the multi-party coalition. The ANC threatened to bring a motion of no confidence against mayor Randall Williams in response. The DA-led coalition agreed to work on strengthening the coalition but Williams remained under pressure.’
Although the ANC-led coalition had successfully removed DA mayor Tania Campbell in October, the ANC and EFF were unable to agree on a new candidate between them. The fallout between the two parties led to the re-election of Campbell with the EFF’s support.
The instability of the DA-led coalition – which relied on the EFF’s support for a majority – led to ActionSA threatening to leave the coalition and ultimately pulling out a week later. ActionSA did commit to voting with the coalition in council.
In Ethekwini the fallout between the ANC and the ABC reached a boiling point. The ABC’s leader, Philani Mavundla was the deputy mayor and leader of a coalition of smaller parties working with the ANC. Mavundla started November under threat of being removed and mayor Mxolisi Kaunda was accused of assuming some of Mavundla’s responsibilities.
Kaunda himself faced calls to resign, both from opposition parties and from the EFF. A motion of no confidence against Kaunda collapsed when the ANC and EFF boycotted the January council meeting. The motion of no confidence was abandoned over concerns that voting could not be held virtually.
The DA’s fragile coalition in Nelson Mandela Bay suffered another setback when the two DOP councillors were removed from office. DOP supporters demanded that the councillors be removed after they failed to pay 50% of their first salaries to the party. The coalition was left with 60 seats out of 120, just short of a majority. The coalition could still pass most votes in council with the deciding vote of the speaker, but budget votes would require a majority.
The Eastern Cape MEC for cooperative governance scrapped the executive mayoral system, placing the DA-led coalition’s control of the metro in jeopardy. The DA won a legal reprieve after a judge suspended the MEC’s decision.
Despite having a majority in the Mangaung council, infighting and factionalism threatened the ANC’s control of the troubled metro. Mayor Mxolisi Siyonzama faced calls to step down from multiple opposition parties and he was eventually recalled by the ANC.
Political struggles in Johannesburg start to hurt the metro’s financial health and service delivery
The political instability across the metros has had a real effect on service delivery and municipal finances. Valuable council time has been occupied with various votes of no confidence and even violence in the Gauteng metros.
In Johannesburg, however, the ANC-led coalition has actively been sabotaging the metro’s finances by voting against a much-needed short-term loan. The R2-billion loan from the Development Bank of South Africa had been approved by the ANC-led coalition in October when it was still in power.
The rejection of the loan started to have real effects from December as the metro could not renew its contract with Avis for rental vehicles, could not pay electricity contractors, and workers from its finance group were evicted from their offices after rent had not been paid for eight months.
Heavy December rains and flooding in Johannesburg exacerbated service delivery problems with City Power needing a week to resolve all electricity reconnections. The metro appealed to Eskom for a three-day reprieve from loadshedding, which was granted. The infrastructure damage from the floods was estimated to be R421-million. City Power also confirmed that it had spent 80% of its annual budget in just six months.