Johannesburg - The future of DA-led coalition governments in three of the Gauteng metros of Joburg, Tshwane and Ekurhuleni hang in the balance – less than a month after they were formed with the view to keep the ANC out of power.
Now, two major parties in the coalition agreement, the DA and ActionSA are set on a collision course over the appointment of members of the mayoral committees in the three municipalities.
The DA led these municipalities after parties such as the EFF, ActionSA, the Freedom Front Plus, the UDM and the ACDP voted for its party’s mayoral candidates. After their inauguration, all the three mayors promised to appoint MMCs with the aim to speed up service delivery but none of these happened as yet.
The signs of the cracking relationship became evident on Thursday when tempers flared up in the City of Joburg’s council chambers meeting where the Mayor Dr Mpho Phalatse came under attack from the opposition parties for her alleged failure to appoint MMCs despite being in office for almost two weeks.
The attacks on Phalatse came during a debate on her acceptance speech on November 22 in which she promised to have an inclusive government.
But hardly two weeks in office, it appears that the tables are turning against the first ever female mayor of Joburg, as her party is being accused of trying to block ActionSA leader Herman Mashaba from securing an MMC position.
These accusations were repeatedly made by opposition party leaders, such as ANC caucus leader Mpho Moerane and African Independent Congress (AIC) councillor Margaret Arnolds in the council chambers on Thursday.
“It is an open secret that the arrogance of your party leaders is that they do not want to work with the people who put you into that seat you’re occupying now,” Arnolds told Phalatse.
She also posted her speech on Facebook page. These opposition parties’ attacks on Phalatse were emboldened by Mashaba’s confirmation to the media that the coalition talks on Monday this week with the DA had stalled.
Mashaba reportedly described it as ill-fated, saying “it’s like two kids talking and you can see there is no serious proposal and it is an insult to ActionSA”.
Phalatse on Thursday declined to comment on allegations that the DA’s top leadership was not in favour of Mashaba’s inclusion in her government, saying “regarding the accusation concerning Mr Mashaba, my party’s national leadership are involved in the coalition talks, and I would refer questions to them for comment”.
She, however, said she was still committed to an inclusive coalition government.
“It is a mischaracterisation that I have failed to appoint MMCs. I await the outcome of the coalition talks between my party’s leadership and other parties.
“Once and if an agreement is reached, that will help me determine how many MMC positions will be allocated to other parties,” Phalatse said.
According to Phalatse, the nature of coalition in local government is that most, if not all, parties in that coalition agreement must hold an MMC position in a particular municipality.
DA’s Gauteng leader Solly Msimanga promised to comment on the status of the coalition government today including the appointment of MMCs.
On Thursday night, however, Mashaba remained hopeful that a solution could be found to their dispute but did not want to divulge details of their stand-off, including offers made to his party.
“We wrote to the DA on Tuesday and they replied to us this morning. We wrote to them asking for more clarity. We are hoping to get a response. I do not want to divulge more details as we are negotiating with them in good faith. We will share information if such negotiations are finalised,” said Mashaba.
He warned that it appears that the DA was not in a hurry to appoint MMCs.