EFF bombshell: Bay mayor Mongameli Bobani open to talks

Nelson Mandela Bay mayor Monagmeli Bobani
Nelson Mandela Bay mayor Monagmeli Bobani
Image: Eugene Coetzee

EFF leader Julius Malema has thrown down the gauntlet, saying his party will no longer vote with the DA or the ANC in all municipalities, including the country’s economic hub of Johannesburg.

On Tuesday, Malema said the EFF would participate in debates and make input in council meetings but, “if anything requires voting, the EFF will abstain from voting”.

This could result in a stalemate in hung councils, especially in metros such as Johannesburg and Tshwane, as the DA and its coalition partners would now need the support of the ANC to pass ordinary decisions.

In Nelson Mandela Bay, the current ANC, UDM, AIC, United Front and Patriotic Alliance coalition governs with EFF support.

Without the EFF’s six votes, the coalition would only have 55 seats out of a total of 120 seats in the council.

Also, as Ward 20 ANC councillor Bongo Nombiba began serving his five-year sentence for fraud on Monday, it leaves the coalition with one less seat until a by-election is held within three months.

Should the EFF withdraw its support for the coalition, the DA (57 seats), COPE and ACDP would have a combined 59 seats, giving them a majority if it comes down to voting in the council chamber.

Bay mayor Mongameli Bobani said the coalition had a healthy working relationship with the EFF. “This [the EFF’s comments] has not yet been related to us as the coalition.

“The coalition in Nelson Mandela Bay is led by smaller parties; if there is anything we know it’s that the EFF leader is very open.

“If this will affect Nelson Mandela Bay we will be open to talks,” Bobani said.

ANC Bay regional task team co-ordinator Babalwa Lobishe said they would discuss the matter when it was brought to them by the EFF.

“As the coalition we have a multiparty forum where we discuss issues of interest.

“This has not been brought to us but when it has been we will meet and discuss it there,” Lobishe said.

The EFF emerged as kingmakers in the 2016 local elections, and were instrumental in installing DA mayors in the Bay, Tshwane and Johannesburg.

However the far-left party, which increased its support to 10.79% during the May 8 national election, played an instrumental role in ousting the DA’s Bay mayor, Athol Trollip, in 2018.

Ahead of the general election, when there was a possibility Gauteng could end up being governed by a coalition, the EFF said it would not work with the DA.

Later in May, after the elections, the EFF said it was in talks with the DA to instal an EFF mayor in Tshwane, and members of the mayoral committee in Johannesburg.

At the time, Malema described this as power-sharing, stating the EFF would not call for a motion of no confidence in DA Tshwane mayor Stevens Mokgalapa as the party wanted to take over in a manner that would not be chaotic.

“We are talking and we are not seeing any hostilities about a possibility of power sharing,” Malema said at the time.

On Tuesday, Malema said the DA “don’t want to vote for us but they want us to vote for them”.

“We cannot keep on voting for people who can’t vote for us – power sharing means give and take.

“From 2016, still the DA doesn’t appreciate [we voted for them],” he said.

Johannesburg’s mayor, the DA’s Herman Mashaba, regularly praises the EFF for its input.

“Mashaba is a good guy – we can have Mashaba as an EFF mayor,” Malema said.

“Maybe Mashaba is teaching us something, maybe our problems don’t need politicians, because Mashaba is not a politician.

“He doesn’t take a political attitude.

“He asks: ‘Can it work’.” On Tshwane, where the EFF wanted to take over from Mokgalapa, Malema said his party knew the metro was in the red.

“We wanted to demonstrate we are the best government.

“You know what happened in Tshwane – every corrupt entrepreneur that was there under Sputla [former ANC mayor Kgosientso Ramokgopa] is still doing business there.

“You need the EFF that knows these people to deal with them decisively.”

DA federal executive chair James Selfe said that the EFF leader’s comments were unfortunate.

“Our arrangement with the EFF, specifically in municipalities in which no party had a majority, has worked well.

“We have engaged with the EFF and have enjoyed a harmonious relationship with its councillors on a local level.

“We have been able to interdict the widespread corruption that characterised the ANC administrations prior to 2016, and have transformed these governments,” Selfe said.

“We remain convinced the current arrangement – difficult though it is to manage – is in the best interests of the residents of the municipalities concerned,” he said.