Added urgency for parties to conclude coalition talks - EFF changes tune on ANC

AUGUST 16, 2016

With less than 48 hours to the highly anticipated Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality council meeting that is expected to elect a new Executive Mayor, coalition talks between parties now have an added urgency.

Two weeks after the August 3 Local Government Elections, there have not been announcements yet as to which parties had reached agreements in four important Metros - including Nelson Mandela Bay.

In the Bay, the Democratic Alliance (DA) won the majority of the votes - giving it 57 seats at council, but it fell short of the 61 seats needed for an outright majority. 

Both the DA and the African National Congress (ANC) - which has 50 seats, have been trying woo smaller political parties to achieve this political majority.

The leader of the United Democratic Movement (UDM), Bantu Holomisa, has lately been assisting the smaller parties in these coaltion talks - insisting that his party and these smaller players not become "voting cattle" for the bigger parties.

Over the weekend, the Nelson Mandela Bay's smaller parties, the Congress of the People (Cope), United Front (UF) and Patriotic Alliance (PA) announced that they had formed a "coalition block" that would give them an edge in current negotiations.

They hope the other smaller parties, including the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP), African Independent Congress (AIC), will join the “coalition block”.

Why the smaller players are important

In total, the smaller parties in Nelson Mandela Bay hold 13 of the 120 seats. 

The ANC, which has 50 seats, needs 11 of those seats to get the majority in council, while the DA needs four.

Perhaps, explains why former Executive Mayor and the ANC's Mayoral candidate, Danny Jordaan, over the weekend told reporters that the battle for the Bay was not over yet - even after his party lost the poll.

In an about turn, the EFF, which had maintained that it would not let the ANC back into power through "the back door",  on Monday said circumstances were now different to the adversarial conditions before the elections and that it has "an open door policy" when negotiating with all parties, including the ANC.

The party was also talking to "white monopoly capital", which many understand to mean the DA.

The EFF has scheduled a press briefing for Wednesday, where it is expected to talk about coalitions following its central command team meeting in Braamfontein on Monday night.

While speculation was rife of a deal between the DA and the UDM immediately after the polls, the DA refuted those rumours last week saying nothing had been concluded yet.

Observers believe that it is only at the first political steering committee meeting when it will become apparent, who has the political majority in the municipality.

Council meeting

At Thursday's Council meeting, a new Executive Mayor, his/her Deputy, the Speaker and the Chief  Whip will be elected.

In the unlikely event of a deadlock vote and the 14 days within which to elect a new council elapses, then the provincial and national governments have a legal manadate to intervene and ensure that residents get a working council in order to expedite service delivery.

In the meantime, Acting City Manager, Johann Metler, and his managers have been running the Metro since the desolution of council two Sundays ago.