DA, ANC and EFF play the blame game at News24's Town Hall debate Tshwane

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  • At News24's Town Hall debate in Tshwane, the DA blamed the municipality's problems on the ANC.
  • The ANC blamed the DA and EFF coalition for creating chaos in the council.
  • The EFF says it blames the ANC because, unlike the DA, it was not in government in the city.

Participants from the DA, ANC and EFF at News24's Town Hall debate on Tshwane enthusiastically participated in a round of the blame game while discussing the Tshwane metro ahead of the municipal elections.

Incumbent mayor Randall Williams, who hopes for a second term on a DA ticket, got the ball rolling when the moderator, News24 politics editor Qaanitah Hunter, asked him whether an outright majority was preferable to a coalition.

"Yes, when you do not have a majority vote, you cannot fully implement your manifesto," Williams said.

In the 2016 elections, neither the DA nor ANC got an outright majority. The DA formed a minority government in coalition with Cope, the ACDP and the FF Plus, with the support of the EFF, which did not enter into a coalition agreement.

"Every council meeting, every decision is subject to negotiation," Williams said of this arrangement.

 Randall Williams
Randall Williams. Photo: Supplied

"With the EFF, we had a loose arrangement, whereby they would decide whether they would vote with us on a case-by-case basis. Now that, for me, right from the start, was a recipe for disaster, because it means you can be held hostage the day of the council meeting, to try and force you to take a certain decision."

READ | Do coalitions work at local government?

The EFF's Obakeng Ramabodu said the party would not be contesting the election with an eye on being kingmakers in the metro.

"We are going there for outright majority," he added.

"Our people are starting to realise that both the DA and ANC have failed dismally. You know, it is very sad that the ANC can come here and promise that they will do things.

"They got three mayors for almost 15 years, so why are those things not done by now?"

Ramabodu said the DA also had enough of a chance to govern.

"They even changed four mayors in five years."

Obakeng Ramabodu
Obakeng Ramabodu. (Facebook, Obakeng Ramabodu)

In fact, they only had three mayors this past term.

He added they have failed, and their only legacy was hiring unqualified people.

In its 2019/20 report, the Auditor-General expressed concern about the metro's high levels of irregular expenditure. It noted a backlog of investigations into allegations of possible fraud and corruption because of capacity constraints.

Tshwane's last two audit opinions were unqualified with findings.

Williams passed the buck to the previous ANC administration, saying irregular payments were rolled over from financial year to financial year.

"When we took office in 2016, the irregular payments already stood at over R6 billion. So, that was incurred under the ANC administration."

He said those payments would remain on the books as irregular until the issue had been resolved.

"No, but he [Williams] got five years. Every time he goes to the mic, he blames the other people," Ramabodu interjected.

"What were you doing, chief, all along? Every time you get a chance, you complain. Hah, this person!"

Williams, referring to the GladAfrica case, said the party had commissioned an independent law firm to compile a report.

"And then, afterwards, we wanted to table the investigative report, plus a report to suspend the city manager at the time. Now, both the EFF voted against it. Despite the fact that there was clear evidence of corruption, the EFF defended the city manager."

According to News24's Out of Order Index, Tshwane is the second-best run municipality in the province, behind Midvaal, with a score of 61. This does not mean it is without its problems.

READ | Which party runs the best municipalities?

It is regarded as a dysfunctional municipality and was placed under administration last year by the ANC-controlled provincial government. This decision has since been overturned by the courts, with the Constitutional Court earlier this month finding the decision unlawful.

Williams conceded the city was in a financial crisis but said this was because of what the "ANC administrators" did in the eight months they were in charge.

Aaron Mokgale of the ANC said the "coalition of the DA and EFF" were responsible for the "chaos in the council".

"That's why the city is not functional."

Aaron Maluleka
Aaron Maluleka. (Twitter, @maluksa)

He added the EFF was "party to the chaos that was in the City of Tshwane".

In response to Williams' assertion the ANC administration was responsible for the irregular expenditure on the city's books, Mokgale said: "It can't be that the irregular spending of the 19/20 financial year is those that were from the ANC, 2013, 2014."

He added the GladAfrica contract was "unprovoked stealing from the DA and EFF". 

"And there was not any official that was taken to task."

Ramabodu accused Williams of hypocrisy for now labelling the EFF as bad while previously relying on its votes in the council.

"They wanted to use us, like they did with Patricia de Lille, like they did with Mmusi Maimane. They thought we were their experiments. We refused. We made sure we held them accountable.

"These people of the DA are always blaming the previous administration. We have a right to blame the ANC because we haven't governed. They are governing. So whatever they are complaining about the previous administration, they were supposed to correct it."

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