JHB mayoral race: IFP keeps DA, ANC on their toes, but EFF could be the real kingmakers

Richard Funzela Ngobeni. (City of Johannesburg)
Richard Funzela Ngobeni. (City of Johannesburg)

It seems the EFF could retain its kingmaker status even after announcing it is fielding its own candidate to become the mayor of Johannesburg. 

Political parties in the country's economic hub are expected to elect a new mayor on Thursday following the resignation of Herman Mashaba.

Mashaba, whose last day was on Wednesday, resigned in October following the DA's election of former leader Helen Zille as federal council chairperson.

News24 has spoken to several political parties in the council, some of whom are still engaging in horse trading and last-minute caucus sessions to finalise negotiations. 

According to ANC insiders, its attempts to woo the IFP have been successful with one senior leader telling News24 a meeting between ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule and IFP leaders "went well". 

"They have said to us: 'We hear you, we support you,' but they are meeting the DA now, so who knows if they will get something sweeter." 

The IFP has maintained it wants control of some municipalities in its home province of KwaZulu-Natal. 

READ: The ANC could give Joburg to the IFP, say party insiders

However, the ANC insider said even though there were three candidates going head to head, an elimination round would likely remove one as a factor. He added there was no way of knowing how the EFF would play its cards. 

"If they abstain then it's a home run for us, but we don't know what they will do after, if they won't vote at all or then suddenly want to vote with the DA," added the ANC insider.

The EFF has fielded caucus leader Musa Novela, while the DA has tapped finance MMC Funzela Ngobeni.

While the ANC is yet to confirm its candidate, it has been widely speculated that its provincial executive committee (PEC) has chosen Lindiwe Maseko, its former provincial treasurer. 

On Tuesday, eNCA reported the PEC rejected three names recommended by the regional executive committee, including caucus leader Geoff Makhubu and spokesperson Jolidee Matongo. 

While the ANC remains confident, News24 understands the IFP met with DA leaders on Wednesday. 

DA Gauteng chairperson Mike Moriarty told News24 he believed the IFP was still on board to vote with the DA, its coalition partner since 2016. 

"There is really no way of predicting anything," said Moriarty. 

He added the DA understood that the EFF, even at provincial and regional level, would take instruction from national level but as of Wednesday morning its own national leaders in charge of negotiations had still not heard from the red berets. 

"It's been radio silence. Even their call for the DA to support their candidate, we would love to give an answer but until there is dialogue it cannot happen." 

Last week, EFF leader Julius Malema told journalists he would be open to a trade-off in Tshwane and Johannesburg for the mayoral position. 

READ:'We supported the DA and its their turn now to support the EFF' - Malema on Joburg mayor race

IFP Gauteng leader Bonginkosi Dlamini told News24 the party, which has five seats in the council, had already made its decision. 

Dlamini said while the IFP had decided on who it would support, it wanted to partner with a party that advocated pro-poor policies. 

"We have made a decision, but you never know what will happen in an hour. We understand our role and we will hold our cards to our chest," he added. 

Some of the smaller parties have also confirmed to News24 they would be going into meetings. 

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