Coalition woes could cost ANC more areas

Acting director-general Muthotho Sigidi.
Acting director-general Muthotho Sigidi.

Johannesburg - The African Independent Congress (AIC) is fast running out of patience in its bid see Matatiele re-incorporated back into KwaZulu-Natal and the ANC may have neither the time nor the capacity to comply with its demand.

This places the ANC’s narrow grip on both the Ekurhuleni metro in Gauteng and Rustenburg in North West at serious risk as the AIC threatens to pull out of the parties’ coalition arrangement if the ANC fails to deliver on its promise to reverse the 2005 decision to move Matatiele from KwaZulu-Natal to the Eastern Cape.

A meeting scheduled for Sunday has been postponed because both parties had other engagements. A new date for further talks is likely to be set in the coming week.

Almost five months since last year’s municipal elections, the arrangement seems to be going nowhere, with the department of co-operative governance and traditional affairs saying it is yet to receive any political instruction to proceed with finding a solution for Matatiele.

Boundary issue

Acting director-general Muthotho Sigidi told City Press in an interview that “if there had been a political decision [on Matatiele], then that decision was communicated to us to deal with it administratively.

“We have not yet started anything. This is a provincial boundary issue that requires a constitutional amendment. And even if we could deal with the constitutional amendment, it is not going to be a two-week thing,” he said.

“There are other boundary disputes in provinces such as the Northern Cape and North West and at the moment I am also trying to collate information on how Matatiele was dealt with".

Unlike Matatiele, Khutsong in Gauteng was in 2009 moved back from North West following violent protests.

To get Khutsong re-incorporated into Gauteng, the ANC submitted a constitutional amendment in Parliament, which required a two-thirds majority to be passed.

However, the ANC will be unlikely to obtain such a majority now because it will require the support of either the DA or the Economic Freedom Fighters to pass the amendment. Neither of these parties has an incentive to keep the ANC in power in Ekurhuleni and Rustenburg.

AIC secretary-general Mahlubanzima Jafta said the party was “aware that the ANC does not have the required majority.

Assemble a team

“But that was our first condition of coming into the coalition with the ANC. The ball in is the court of the ANC. It is either Matatiele goes back to KwaZulu-Natal, or they lose Ekurhuleni and Rustenburg,” Jafta said.

“They cannot have both and we will be giving the ANC a new deadline soon,” he said, adding that the purpose of this weekend’s postponed meeting was to assemble a team of five from both parties to continue with negotiations.

“That was supposed to be done on Sunday, but seemingly they have a problem because they have commitments on Sunday. I am waiting for [ANC secretary-general Gwede] Mantashe to give me another date, by the latest next week. Then we task the committee with implementing what we agreed on together with the ANC.”

He said the AIC expected the matter to be concluded in the next few months.

“The ANC is governing Ekurhuleni because of our assistance. We must benefit if we are getting into a meaningful coalition. Our conditions are clear. If the ANC fails, it means we break everything,” Jafta said.

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