No decision yet on EFF's demand for Tshwane mayorship

2019-06-05 12:26
Stevens Mokgalapa is the current mayor of Tshwane. (Tshidi Madia, News24)

Stevens Mokgalapa is the current mayor of Tshwane. (Tshidi Madia, News24)

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No decision has been taken on whether or not the EFF will be given the mayorship of the City of Tshwane, almost two months after party leader Julius Malema said they would assume control of the highest office in the metro.

Malema has said on several occasions that the EFF wants the mayorship in Tshwane.

Speaking at a gala dinner in early February, he said the red berets wanted to "take some power. We have been training for too long now. We will be mayors and MMCs. In Johannesburg, you will get EFF MMCs".

He repeated this when he told journalists in early March: "After the elections, we are going into government. We will be MMCs in Joburg; we are going to be mayor in Tshwane."

Malema made similar comment at the party’s post-election media briefing on May 16.

But despite his fiery rhetoric on the issue, negotiations between the EFF and the DA have moved slowly. The negotiations are happening at a national level.

EFF spokesperson Mbuyiseni Ndlozi could not be reached immediately on Tuesday morning, but the party's Tshwane leader, Moaferika Mabogwana, told News24 on Tuesday that no decision had yet been reached.

He said the regional leadership was not part of the talks and merely received briefings from time to time. So far, he was not aware of any conclusions on the issue, he said.

DA spokesperson Refiloe Ntsekhe told News24 that the party was still consulting its other coalition partners about possible scenarios. But she said that Tshwane Mayor Stevens Mokgalapa had not been asked to resign.

"It is a complex matter. The leadership has not reached a conclusion on the (mayorship) issue… To my knowledge, Stevens (Mokgalapa) has been doing a very good job... Yes, we’ve engaged the EFF, but no decision has been made on the DA’s side. Consultations are going on with the other roleplayers to discuss the request by the EFF (for the mayorship), but no conclusions have been reached at all," she said.

'The EFF is bluffing'

News24 understands that senior national DA leaders met with the City of Tshwane’s DA caucus on Monday night.

Mayoral spokesperson Norman Mohale said that, to the best of his knowledge, the meeting was mainly to talk to the caucus and thank them for their work during the elections campaign.

He said he did not think that governance issues or the mayorship question had been discussed.

DA spokesperson Solly Mapaila added that the senior leadership of the party meets with different caucuses of the party throughout the country on a regular basis.

"It's not an extraordinary occasion when that happens. It is always to ensure regular engagements with the party and for political management purposes."

But that did not stop the rumour mill on Tuesday morning, and uncertainty over the negotiations is rife.

So far, the possibility of the EFF getting what it wants has looked slim.

"The EFF is bluffing," a senior DA source told News24.

He said the EFF did not have the kind of sway over the DA that it thought it did, and that the mayorship was by no means a done deal. He added that the meeting, where the issue was discussed several weeks ago, was requested by the EFF, and that this was after Malema had publicly made the demand. The request, and the EFF's decision to lobby for the mayorship in public without talking to the DA first, had left a bad taste in the mouth of many DA leaders, News24 understands.

Another DA source with knowledge of talk within the party told News24 that a formal coalition between the DA and the EFF - with the EFF getting the mayorship - would result in mutiny within the DA’s ranks.

Such a deal would "draw so much resistance that the risk of an internal meltdown will outweigh the costs of possibly being voted out completely in Joburg and Tshwane," he said.

'There's no such thing as a free lunch'

The source added that the atmosphere was not the same as it was in 2016, and that the DA had learnt hard lessons from its cooperation agreement with the EFF in the metros.

"Then we were ecstatic about defeating the ANC behemoth in the metros. The three odd years of governing with the EFF’s help in passing budgets and crucial resolutions have shown us that there’s no such thing as a free lunch."

The EFF has not supported the DA’s moves to remove Tshwane city manager Moeketsi Mosola over allegations of his involvement in the GladAfrica tender scandal, for example.

Mokgalapa’s budget passed at the end of May without the support of the EFF.

The ANC in Tshwane has called for clarity on the mayorship question. In a statement last week, the ANC’s Greater Tshwane Region said: "The DA needs to restore some semblance of order by coming out to clarify their position on the utterances by the EFF's so-called CIC, Julius Malema about Steven 'Gimmicks' Mokgalapa being a 'caretaker Mayor' ... Is Mokgalapa staying or is he leaving the City?"

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