The cooperation agreement between the DA and the EFF in the Tshwane and Johannesburg metros is headed for an implosion as hostile relations between the two leading opposition parties continue to deepen in the run-up to the general elections in May.
The EFF gave a strong indication this week that it was preparing to sever ties with the DA after complaining of the DA’s relentless election messaging portraying it as a corrupt party.
An improved electoral performance would not only strengthen the EFF’s bargaining hand, but it would also resuscitate its long-held ambition to become a governing party – and taking over either of the two metros would be considered a major feat.
EFF leader Julius Malema gave a stern warning at a media briefing on Wednesday that when the right time came, his party would not succumb to DA rhetoric, inferring that the EFF could work with any party other than the DA.
An irate Malema told the media that the DA had crossed the line in its posture against the EFF with regard to the criminal case it had lodged against the party for its alleged involvement in the looting of VBS Mutual Bank, blaming the DA’s stance on “white arrogance”.
He said the DA could have had the courtesy to solicit the views of the party keeping it in power in the country’s richest metros, but instead, it took a position “and they just call us names”.
Malema was particularly peeved about a campaign by the DA in which it used SMS messages, posters and telephone voice prompts to spread accusations that the EFF had stolen VBS money that had belonged mainly to poor people. “The people making it possible for you to have power, you must have some decency when you deal with them,” said Malema.
He said it was an insult for the DA to label the EFF as corrupt and compare the party to the ANC.
“And then, after putting up those posters, they are going to come to us and say: ‘Let us vote together in Tshwane municipality.’ After insulting us like that?
“Then you South Africans say that the EFF must vote with the DA, otherwise they are bringing the ANC through the back door ... We cannot be insulted like that.”
He said that the DA would not defeat the ANC in Gauteng and govern the province unless the EFF played a role.
But the DA is not backing down on its claims that the EFF is just as corrupt as the ANC and that both parties should be stopped.
On Friday, DA spokesperson Solly Malatsi said: “The ANC and the EFF are in a de facto coalition of corruption nationally.”
He went on to say that the ANC had Bosasa gate – this, in reference to revelations of corruption by politicians aligned with the governing party in the ongoing state capture commission of inquiry.
He added that the EFF was deep in the VBS mess, in which up to R2 billion of the bank’s money was allegedly looted – leading to the winding down of VBS as well as to several municipalities standing to lose millions of funds that were irregularly invested with the bank.
Malatsi said the allegations showed that “these parties put themselves first and the people last”.
The DA was “focused on becoming the biggest party in Gauteng to keep corruption out of Gauteng, create fair access to jobs, fix the police service and speed up the delivery of basic services”, he said.
Malatsi accused the EFF of not being committed to building a united South Africa, fighting corruption and putting the people first.
“They do not treat the future of our country with decency and seem intent on sowing division rather than unifying South Africa.”
Malatsi said the DA was “the only party that is big enough to stop the ANC and EFF coalition of corruption and build a better future for our country that keeps corruption out, creates jobs and keeps our communities safe”.
Responding to Malema’s use of the term “white arrogance” in referring to the DA, Malatsi said the EFF itself was arrogant to think that the DA had no options without it.
But Malema hit back, saying the DA’s attitude was “no problem. They must enjoy it while it lasts because there are going to be problems, and they must know that.”
Asked whether the EFF had resolved to part ways with the DA and whether a working relationship with the ANC was on the cards, EFF deputy president Floyd Shivambu said the party would not participate in the selection of the mayor in Tshwane, following the recent announcement of Solly Msimanga’s resignation.
“That is final. The rest of the things are just figments of political imaginations,” said Shivambu.