ANC and DA are doing their best to woo smaller parties to vote with them
Wheeling and dealing by the ANC and the DA to secure the vacant Johannesburg mayoral position is expected to go down to the wire ahead of Thursday’s council meeting, where Herman Mashaba’s successor will be elected.
The EFF’s announcement last week that it will be fielding a candidate for the position threw a spanner in the works, leaving a dent in the DA’s efforts to retain control of the city.
The ANC, which has 122 seats in council, now sits comfortably as the obvious frontrunner should the EFF stay true to its stance to not vote for either the ANC or the DA.
Sources in the ANC say the party’s Johannesburg regional chairperson, Geoff Makhubo, is the favourite candidate.
However, according to sources, there are two other contenders still in the mix – councillors Loyiso Masuku and Matshidiso Mfikoe.
The ANC has been trying to cement its position since Mashaba’s resignation last month by courting smaller parties that have been in cooperative governance alliances with the DA to jump ship and partner with it instead.
City Press last month reported that the ANC managed to entice the African Independent Congress and Al Jama-ah to vote with it, and negotiations were continuing with the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP).
IFP Gauteng secretary Alderman Ngobese told City Press that his party was still committed to the agreement it made to the DA.
Speculation has also been rife that the ANC is even willing to vote for IFP provincial leader Bonginkosi Dhlamini to assume the mayoral position as a strategy to not be in power leading up to the next municipal elections in 2021.
Dhlamini, however, told City Press that he was unaware of such a proposal: “I haven’t been informed of any such developments, however, negotiations are happening at a national level and I would not be privy to such information either way.”
However, it is not a given that the ANC will emerge victorious because the charm offensive continues as the ANC and the DA try to woo other political parties with seats in the council to vote with them.
Despite EFF leader Julius Malema’s announcement last week that the EFF would be fielding its own candidate and not voting with the DA or the ANC, DA Gauteng leader John Moodey said negotiations with the red berets were proceeding behind the scenes, but he admitted that “everything was still fluid at this time”.
The DA facilitated a “rigorous” selection process to select Funzela Ngobeni, who the party believes would be best suited to take over from Mashaba.
Moodey said Ngobeni’s “maturity” and “extensive experience” would ensure that they win the EFF over.
Ngobeni is the current member of the mayoral council in charge of Johannesburg’s finances and, just like Mashaba, City Press understands that he was instrumental in negations between the DA and the EFF.
Alluding to Ngobeni’s pedigree, Moodey said: “In fact, if we had a deputy mayor’s position [under Mashaba], he would have had that title as member of the mayoral committee for finance, as well as leader of government business in the City of Joburg.
“He had been Mashaba’s right-hand man. He is well respected by all political parties in the city. We remain confident in the support of our coalition partners – they are comfortable with Funzela as our mayoral candidate.”
The DA will need to secure 30 votes from the EFF and maintain its existing coalition agreement with the IFP’s five votes if it wishes to keep the mayoral position. The African Independent Congress has four votes and the six smaller parties have one seat each.
The DA faces a tough hindrance to winning over the IFP, which has expressed a grievance that, under Mashaba’s leadership, the DA did not prioritise developing its constituency – hostel and shack dwellers – and mostly catered for the middle-class electorate.
“Our position hasn’t changed, we are still committed to the cooperation we entered into with the DA in 2016. Our agreement was not with an individual [Mashaba] but was with the DA,” Ngobese said.
The EFF not announcing the name of its mystery candidate has led to questions regarding the legitimacy of the party when it comes to it not voting with the DA or the ANC.
Political journalist | City Press