DA flirts with EFF

2014-04-20 15:00

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The DA in Gauteng is flirting with the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) ahead of the elections, in what could end up as a coalition of strange bedfellows.

DA Gauteng premier candidate Mmusi Maimane has admitted that the issue of a coalition government has come up in informal conversations between himself and leaders of the EFF and the ANC.

A coalition government in South Africa’s economic heartland will be necessary if the ANC garners less than 50% support in the May 7 elections.

"Dali [Mpofu, EFF premier candidate] and I go to enough events together, so it comes up in conversation,” Maimane said.

“There is a sense of collegiality about job creation and corruption. As opposition parties, we are against a government that is corrupt in the main.”

However, Maimane did say that this was a personal view. DA leader Helen Zille said the party would consider coalitions, but only under “very clear conditions”.

“If we cannot get the critical portfolios we need to do our work properly, we would rather stay in opposition.

“There is only one thing worse than losing an election and that’s an unstable, irreconcilable coalition torn apart by internal conflict and unable to govern.”

DA leaders in Gauteng told City Press the party was willing to enter into a coalition with the ANC, or even the EFF in the province, in exchange for “critical positions” in portfolios like education and health.

Internal and external polls in the past month show the ANC’s support in Gauteng fluctuating between 48% and 52%. The province has 6?million registered voters, making it a prime election prize.

There are serious divisions in the DA’s leadership over a suitable partner for the party if, for the first time in 20 years, the ANC does not win an absolute majority (51%) in Gauteng.

Young Turks in the DA’s federal council said they would “rather work with the EFF any day than with the ANC”.

But the more experienced council members believed a coalition with the EFF was “inconceivable” and would result in “absolute chaos”.

City Press sister publication Rapport understands from sources in the DA’s federal council, as well as national and parliamentary leadership, that:

»?Senior DA candidates in Gauteng have been in discussions with Mpofu regularly. The talks have apparently been “positive”.

»?The federal council has already appointed a “small group of people” to consider every possible coalition scenario and the party is in the process of putting together a negotiating team to handle the mediation with possible coalition partners.

»According to a senior member of the federal council, any coalition agreement would be made under strict conditions and “in the best interests of DA voters in Gauteng”.

The DA apparently realises that a coalition with President Jacob Zuma’s ANC or Julius Malema’s EFF could severely antagonise, or even alienate its supporters.

Young members in the DA leadership feel that the EFF is harmless at provincial level since it would not be able to carry out its more radical policies, such as nationalisation and land expropriation, unless it was in national government.

Older members of the DA’s federal council believed there was a “slim chance” of a coalition with the ANC working, while a coalition with the EFF would be a big mistake.

Mpofu, who with Floyd Shivambu is a negotiator for the EFF, denied that any negotiations with the DA about possible coalitions were under way before the elections.

“If we have to adopt coalitions, then we’ll have to cross the bridge at that time. Whoever is in a coalition with us must accept our principles of land expropriation, nationalisation, free education, and so on,” he said.

However, an EFF national leader, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said whatever negotiations were under way at the moment were informal. He said the party would rather wait for the elections to know how it had performed before it entered into any pacts.

He also said the party envisaged a scenario where the opposition rallied behind it and ruled Gauteng together.

“But the DA’s bosses in Stellenbosch are likely to say the ANC is closer to them than the EFF,” he said. He said in that case, the ANC and the DA would govern together while the EFF built its support from the opposition benches.

Mpofu said he had not spoken to Maimane and would prefer talks only after the elections.

Gauteng DA leader John Moodey said Maimane was part of the talks with the EFF and other smaller parties to try to determine “where we are in agreement”.

“Our talks are to see if we can reach a point where we can agree,” he said. David Makhura, Gauteng ANC secretary and premier candidate, said a coalition government was not on the cards.

“We are not planning to get anything less than 60%. We are not planning a coalition. We have fundamental differences with all the other parties contesting the election,” he said.

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