Johannesburg – In this climate of surprise politics, DA mayoral candidate Herman Mashaba might yet wake up to find he has stepped aside before the Johannesburg council has its first sitting on Monday.
EFF leader Julius Malema said Mashaba’s candidacy was an issue for the EFF, who has committed to voting for the DA’s mayoral candidate, Solly Msimanga, in the Tshwane metro.
He told Xolani Gwala on 702 the EFF did not like Mashaba because "he hates his blackness" and because the party felt he did not respect the poor. Also, they said he had insufficient experience to run Joburg.
So what are the other options?
ANC mayoral candidate Parks Tau
Should the EFF abstain from the mayoral vote in the Johannesburg metro council, and should all the ANC councillors be present, former Joburg mayor Parks Tau will be voted in for a second term due to the ANC’s majority here.
However, neither the EFF nor the DA wants this, so they will have to make another plan.
EFF deputy president Floyd Shivambu
Another option would be for the EFF to put up its own candidate, like party deputy president Floyd Shivambu, and convince the DA councillors to vote for him instead of Mashaba.
There are some in the DA’s caucus who are not convinced of Mashaba’s political virtues, but they might not want to risk being out of line politically – and besides, there might not be enough of them to earn an EFF candidate the majority of votes in the council.
DA leader Mmusi Maimane
Five years ago Maimane ran for mayor in Johannesburg, but after losing he served in the council a short while until being made the party’s national spokesperson and moving to parliament.
In 2014, he ran as Gauteng premier candidate and lost, so became the party’s parliamentary leader instead, before being elected party leader in 2015. During the 2011 campaign Maimane would already have been groomed as mayoral material, and he now has some experience in both council and parliament, which he could use in the city’s top job.
Besides, it would give him valuable governance experience before the 2019 election, when he is likely to make a go straight for the Union Buildings. There is a chance that Maimane would not fly with Malema though, who has accused him of changing his accents to fit the race of his audience.
Former DA Youth leader and MP Makhasule Gana
An EFF activist tweeted that the party wanted someone as mayor with an actual constituency. Gana might fit the bill, because he’s been in the DA since 2002 and worked his way up from being a student leader in Limpopo to being a national youth leader.
He also served as a councillor in Johannesburg from 2009 before moving to parliament in 2014. He also spent two years in Sasco before joining the DA so could be said to have a grassroots understanding of politics. His work in the DA means that he might actually have a constituency, but not everybody in the DA’s leadership like him.
Former DA parliamentary leader Lindiwe Mazibuko
In the early stages of the DA looking for a candidate to run as Joburg mayor, Lindiwe Mazibuko’s name has cropped up. Mazibuko left active politics in 2014 to go further her studies and she ticks many of the right boxes.
She has proved herself to be a strong leader, has support and respect from many in the DA, is politically astute and street smart, and her studies would have equipped her with the intellectual skills for running a city like Joburg.
Those close to her say she even gets on well with Malema, who a few election campaigns back referred to her as Helen Zille’s 'tea girl'. One major snag: Mazibuko might not want to.
Any local or provincial DA leader
There is a lot of local homegrown talent in the DA, but some of them aren’t well-known outside the DA and might lack popular appeal, and some might not have quite the same gravitas as a name like Mashaba or the same star quality as Maimane.
These are Gauteng provincial leader John Moodey, DA Gauteng south chairperson and MPL Khume Ramulifo, former deputy chair and MP Anchen Dreyer, and party national spokesperson Refiloe Ntsekhe.
Why Herman Mashaba is going nowhere, for now
Maimane told journalists on Wednesday: "We were quite clear, we asked the people of Johannesburg to vote for Herman Mashaba, and Herman Mashaba stands as our candidate.
"So we hold strong to that view, to say you can’t ask South Africans to vote for a candidate and then seek to change that, and we communicated that, and we wanted to be clear to say 'look, our party operates on certain principles, we don’t offer mayorships somewhere somehow'.
"So the reason we have taken the stance that we have is because it’s important for us to honour the relation we have with the voters. And our principle has always been we select the best for communities, for cities, and in fact I can use Patricia de Lille who is here, she had a very successful term as mayor of Cape Town, she had to apply for the job again and go through the same process.
"So we [have] got to understand so that is why it is important, and when it’s all said and done we have to honour that agreement we have with voters and will put a candidate in the respective municipalities."
He did, however, say discussions were ongoing.
Minority governments are by their nature unstable. Should the EFF abstain and allow Tau to be elected as mayor, opposition parties could, as they have done in Potchefstroom in recent times where the opposition had a majority of the seats, go to the minority ANC with a list of demands to be met.
The alternative to these demands being met would be a vote of 'no confidence' in the mayor, which would unseat Tau and make room for a DA/EFF candidate. Easy.
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