Mayors voted in and out of six metros
Political risk in the metros continued to climb as coalitions crumbled and ANC factions nurtured their faribels. Six of the metros lost their mayors, leaving only Cape Town and Ethekwini unscathed – and Ethekwini still managed to lose a deputy mayor.
Neither the Multi Party Coalition (MPC), led by the DA, nor any of the ANC-led coalitions inspired confidence. The DA and ANC were both criticised by their partners for their high-handed approaches to coalitions. ActionSA left the MPC in Ekurhuleni and fielded its own mayoral candidate in Johannesburg.
MPC-led coalitions lost control in Johannesburg, Ekurhuleni and Nelson Mandela Bay – and briefly lost power in Tshwane. The ANC/EFF coalitions in these metros are tense, with both the ANC and EFF wanting control and unwilling to share. Their compromise has been to elect mayors from minority parties, including Al Jama-ah, COPE, and the AIC.
Political instability threatens budgets and service delivery
The results have been catastrophic, particularly in Johannesburg. Two Al Jama-ah mayors have been so poor that the metro risks not passing its 2023/24 budget on time in June. The current mayor and his committee, drawn from the ANC, EFF, PA, and ATM, have boycotted most of the community budget meetings mandated by the Municipal Systems Act.
The political merry-go-round has compromised service delivery and the budget process in other metros. Tshwane passed its adjustment budget after months of delay and under threat of administration. Ethewini has returned capital grants to National Treasury unspent, including relief funds for 2022’s flooding disaster.
Only Cape Town and Ekurhuleni received clean audits for the 2021/22 financial year. Mangaung and Tshwane both regressed, with Tshwane receiving its first ever adverse audit.
The financial outlook is bleak for the 2023/24 financial year (1 July 2023 – 30 June 2024). The constant changing of governments in the three Gauteng metros and Nelson Mandela Bay has derailed the budget process over the last four months. There are serious questions of corruption and poor planning in Ethekwini, while Mangaung has been under administration until recently.
To lose one mayor may be regarded as a misfortune – but six!
Thapelo Amad, the new Johannesburg mayor from Al Jama-ah, hung on to his chain for almost three months. He resigned a day before facing a vote of no confidence. His replacement Kabelo Gwamanda, also from Al Jama-ah, has been in the job for just over a month but also faces a vote of no confidence.
Johannesburg also had an acting mayor in May. Kenny Kunene (PA) stood in for two days while Gwamanda was away ‘on business’.
Tshwane had three mayors over the period. Randall Williams (DA), mayor since October 2020, resigned in early February. The metro’s poor audit and gross financial mismanagement had opposition parties calling for his head.
The DA’s Cilliers Brink lost the vote for mayor to COPE’s Murunwa Makwarela in February. Makwarela resigned a week later after being accused of fraud and Brink was eventually voted in as mayor a month later.
Ekhurhuleni’s Tania Campbell (DA) had her second stint as mayor cut short by the ANC/EFF coalition. The coalition voted in Sivuyile Ngodwana (AIC) as the new mayor in April.
The DA-led coalition in Nelson Mandela Bay was always a delicate balancing act and it all came crashing down by May. After the NA left the coalition to join the ANC/EFF coalition, DA mayor Retief Odendaal was voted out and NA leader Gary van Niekerk was elected as new mayor.
Buffalo City and Mangaung both have ANC majorities on paper, but their mayors were no more secure. Mangaung cycled through two ANC mayors before electing a mayor from the AASD, Papi Mokoena. Mokoena was elected by opposition councillors and at least two ANC councillors.
The changing of the guard in Buffalo City was relatively sedate: mayor Xola Pakati resigned and Princess Faku (also ANC) replaced him. Pakati’s resignation came after the ANC’s PWC recalled him.