Port Elizabeth coalition on the cards?
Trevor Neethling, City Press
Port Elizabeth - The two biggest opposition parties in the Nelson Mandela Metropole are prepared to join forces in a coalition government to wrest control from the governing ANC.
Cope’s mayoral candidate, former ANC spokesperson Smuts Ngonyama, said a coalition was on the cards.
“Yes, we will certainly consider this option, but only after the election. Right now, we are campaigning as Cope with our policies and our manifesto. Once the numbers are in and, if needed, we are open to the idea of a coalition,” said Ngonyama.
DA mayoral candidate Leon de Villiers agreed. “Our campaign has been very effective across the metro.
We are confident of a strong showing but, if we need to, we are willing to lead a coalition.
“It’s still too early to talk about details now. Cope would be the preferred partner, but if we can take it without them that is even better.”
The two shared similar views - both wanted inept managers out, greater accountability on procurement procedures and only qualified, non-political municipal staff.
They also cited the ANC’s failure to release the findings of two audit reports on the state of the metro as proof of the party’s lack of accountability.
Oddly, the most telling sign of what lies ahead took place at a public debate at the Great Centenary Hall in New Brighton township on Thursday.
Hundreds of party supporters turned up waving flags and posters, more like the fans at a soccer match than participants of a political debate.
On one side sat the home team - a few hundred ANC supporters wearing their Jacob Zuma-emblazoned T-shirts.
On the other sat the opposition - a colourful mix of DA blue, Cope and United Democratic Movement bright yellow.
One minute the mixed team deafened the room. A few minutes later, the roar of the home supporters raised the roof.
In the metro, where about 80 of the 120 seats on the council were occupied by the governing party, Cope and the DA struck a chord with black and coloured voters - the two biggest voting blocks.
Opposition parties accused the municipality of corruption and mismanagement, which led to erratic service delivery that sparked sporadic violent protests, and left the municipality R500m in the red.
Of the metro’s population, 600 000 were black, 220 000 coloured, 160 000 white and 10 000 Indian/Asian, according to the 2007 census.
More than 550 000 people are registered to vote.
Metro mayor Zanoxolo Wayile, who heads the local PR list, said the ANC wasn’t concerned about losing the metro to the coalition, let alone a single party.
“We have done our work. There is no concern about any coalition. We will not need a coalition. We are aiming to take about 85% to 90%, and we will continue to run the metro. In fact, it wouldn’t be ambitious of me to say we want 100%.”
He dismissed opposition party allegations of mismanagement and corruption as attempts to score cheap political points.
On the ground though, the ANC’s frantic last-minute campaigning spoke volumes.
On Thursday Wayile unveiled a sports complex in Kleinskool, then rushed to open a clinic in Kuyga before joining Premier Noxolo Kiviet to hand out blankets and food to elderly people in KwaNoxolo.
All three areas were impoverished mixed-race communities in Port Elizabeth, home to many frustrated black and coloured voters.
At George Botha Centre in KwaNoxolo, many of those who turned up were more interested in the food and blankets than what the speakers had to say.
In KwaNobuhle, Uitenhage, Loyiso Ntushuntsha, 26, came to see Cope’s Ngonyama.
"All we get is promises. I am not going to vote. I finished school five years ago and I have not been able to find work. I’ve not worked a day in my life," he said.
Yet ANC members such as ward councillor Cedrick Pietersen remained quietly confident.
“They (the opposition) may get some votes, but the people know us. We are part of them.”