An unlikely hero is holding the key to sway power in a Limpopo municipality, but the ANC is in no hurry to negotiate with them.
The Bushbuckridge Residents’ Association (BRA), which has roots in Mpumalanga’s Bushbuckridge area, has surprisingly won one seat in the Bela-Bela municipality.
The BRA surpassed the Pan Africanist Congress, Ubuntu Party, African Christian Democratic Party and the South African Christian Movement, which failed to get seats.
The ANC won nine seats while the opposition parties – BRA, DA and Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) – won eight.
The DA has five seats and the EFF has two. This means that the ANC can still form a government, but once the speaker is appointed, it loses its majority in council.
As the presiding officer, the speaker will have to cast the deciding vote when votes cast on both sides are equal in number to give the ANC the necessary majority, as it is unlikely that DA and EFF will agree with them.
It also means that the ANC will have to always attend council meetings to stay in the majority.
BRA secretary Cleopas Maunye said his party’s leaders would meet today to decide on the way forward.
“We will decide what we’re going to do if the ANC approaches us. The ANC is downplaying this development, but the fact of the matter is that the ANC and the opposition will be equal in numbers in the council,”
Limpopo ANC spokesperson Khumbudzo Ntshavheni said:
“The bottom line is that we can form a government in Bela-Bela even if it means we’ll go into the anomaly of getting a speaker to vote every time there is a tie on certain issues where the opposition votes against us.”
Ntshavheni, however, admitted that the ANC would not be able to run the council if councillors failed to attend council meetings.
“It will become a problem if one ANC councillor is absent. We will engage the smaller organisations in all hung municipalities if necessary. Remember that members of residents associations are ANC members who were dissatisfied with our nomination processes.”
The ANC’s vote in Limpopo was 69.10% – a decline from 81% in 2011. The EFF got 16% and DA got 8%.
The ANC was still negotiating with smaller parties to govern in Modimolle and Thabazimbi, where it did not get an outright majority. If the DA and EFF enter into a coalition, the ANC could end up playing the opposition role.
The BRA has also grown in Mpumalanga since its formation by former ANC members before the 2011 local government elections.
It won one ward in the Bushbuckridge municipality in 2011. After the 2016 local government elections it increased its wards to five.
It grew in spite of Mpumalanga Premier David Mabuza accusing the BRA of being run along tribal lines.
“We have a plan for them. The BRA is playing on the tribal line. We will unite the people of Bushbuckridge. We might have also made a mistake by delivering services to people of a particular tribe,” Mabuza admitted after the 2016 election results were announced.
Tribalism has always been an issue in Bushbuckridge politics between the Mapulanas and Tsongas.
The Mapulanas claim that the Tsongas get positions and divert service delivery towards where they live.