We avoided Winnie during coalition discussions - EFF

Erin Bates

Johannesburg - The leadership of the Economic Freedom Fighters says they avoided speaking to Winnie Madikizela-Mandela during coalition discussions as they knew who she would want them to work with the African National Congress.

"I avoided her because I can't say no to her. Every time they would say Winnie is on the line, I would tell them to tell her that I will call back. I'm going to call her back after this press conference," leader Julius Malema told reporters in Alexandra.

"She remains the mother of the nation and there were some form of contact with her not on this issues, before they became this complex and when they became complex I realised that it was not going to be strategic to engage with Mama Winnie because she has always been loyal to the ANC and she was not going to suggest anything other than the ANC."

Malema, who has a soft spot for the struggle icon, said they were ready to take any criticism Madikizela-Mandela may have to dish out to them.

"I said I will see her after the announcement because this decision also took her views into consideration even when she has not expressed it. We already know it. If she decides to whip us, we will take it. It is a necessary pain but the decision remains," he said.

Malema said they could not agree on certain conditions with both the ANC and Democratic Alliance regarding getting into bed together and effectively settled for being opposition in the municipalities.

The EFF on Wednesday announced it would not be going into coalition with any party but would lend its votes to the DA in Tshwane, Johannesburg, Ekurhuleni and Nelson Mandela Bay.

The party would also be voting with the Inkatha Freedom Party in KwaZulu-Natal and the Forum for Service Delivery in the Rustenburg municipality.

Malema said that decision should however not be construed as political agreement. He added that they would put stringent measures in place to ensure that the people they represent are taken care of.

Poor being punished

READ: The DA’s coalition conundrum

"We are going to ask in a budget that the indigent, poor, who are owing water and electricity, those debts must be cancelled because they can't afford and we are going to propose a new policy that no one, particularly the poor, should lose their houses through auction as a means of the municipality to recover its money," said Malema.

He said people can't be punished for being poor.

"If you can provide no fee schools because you see that in this area the people can't afford to pay a school fees, you can also declare that this area, the people should not pay water and electricity.

“Those are the types of arguments we will be listening to in the municipalities and there is no person in the suburbs that can complain that why should those not pay and we pay. It is happening already, they are not paying school fees and you are but you didn't complain," he said.

While the EFF has declined to go into coalition with anyone, five smaller parties have agreed to work with the Democratic Alliance in some of the 27 hung councils countrywide.

Party leader Mmusi Maimane during a press conference announced that the DA had spoken to a number of political parties and agreed on coalitions with Congress of the People, the African Christian Democratic Party, FF Plus, United Democratic Movement and the IFP.

Leaders from the various parties signed the coalition agreement at the Radisson Blu Gautrain Hotel in Sandton on Wednesday afternoon. Maimane said the parties had agreed to principles of clean governance and transparent procurement processes.

"This is an agreement that seeks to put people first, ahead of anyone else," the DA leader said.

He said the DA had tried to negotiate with the EFF, but "it's quite clear that we will never agree on some ideological issues".

He added, however, that the parties could talk about issues that required changes to the Constitution, further along the line.

- Find everything you need to know about the 2016 Local Government Elections at our News24 Elections site, including the latest news and detailed, interactive maps for how South Africa has voted over the past 3 elections, or download the app for iOS and Android.

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