Another attempt to oust Ekurhuleni mayor Mzwandile Masina by a motion of no confidence has failed, with council speaker Patricia Kumalo telling the DA to try its luck at the next local government polls.
The DA has been under pressure from its constituency to act against Masina amid widespread frustrations by residents abut the ongoing power outages in the metro.
The party accused the mayor of failing to rectify the power crisis under the ANC-led coalition administration.
But ousting the powerful mayor has proved to be a difficult task for the opposition, which has previously submitted several motions without success.
But even this one appeared bound to fail.
The DA, which submitted the urgent motion on 16 June, is not giving up the fight however, with DA Ekurhuleni party leader Tania Campbell promising to elevate the battle to Parliament.
“As the DA, we brought this motion against Masina as his ANC administration has failed the people of Ekurhuleni through his inability to deal with rampant power outages. Many residents are still in darkness, some without power since early June,” Campbell said.
Large parts of Ekurhuleni have been plunged into darkness due to regular power outages which have affected business operations in Gauteng’s industrial hub, which also houses OR Tambo International Airport.
According to Campbell, residents and businesses across the city were brought to their knees by the failures of what she called “waning administration”.
She accused Kumalo of gagging the motion and protecting Masina instead of the frustrated Ekurhuleni residents’ needs.
Kumalo reportedly told the DA that the matter could be resolved by other means, including the October elections.
“Alderwoman Kumalo’s failure to allow the motion to be heard by the council silences the struggles communities are having to endure.
“The ANC and its coalition partners have already voted to raise electricity tariffs by around 14% and cut the electricity maintenance budget by almost R168 million. This poor planning and governance has led our infrastructure to the brink of collapse,” Campbell said.
While dismissing the DA motion as frivolous, the ANC is being haunted by a political skeleton in its closet. The relations between the governing party and its coalition partners in the metro are strained.
After being defeated by the DA in the 2016 local government elections, the ANC entered into a coalition partnership with the African Independent Congress (AIC), Pan Africanist Congress (PAC), Patriotic Alliance (PA) and Independent Ratepayers Association of South Africa (IRASA).
Masina and the ANC have guarded the coalition pact jealously.
However, recently there have been trust issues between the ANC and the PA in particular, with regular frustrations against it raised by the AIC.
A spat between the two in the neighbouring Johannesburg metro resulted in the ANC breaking all ties with the PA, including firing it from the mayoral committee.
This bothered Ekurhuleni, with conflict threats threatening to spill over into the nearby metro.
The PA, which outperformed the DA in Eldorado Park south west of Johannesburg in the recent by-elections, winning at least two wards, could withhold its support for the ANC in Ekurhuleni, possibly as an expression of anger and revenge for what happened in Johannesburg.
The usually single-councillor party was also a king-maker at Nelson Mandela Bay metro, where the ANC and DA had to cajole and win its backing if they wanted a majority to rule the hung council.
“We will not stop fighting for residents and businesses right to reliable electricity, and will be escalating this matter to higher structures,” Campbell said.
“The speaker may have gagged our motion of no confidence in Masina so we will be driving it at a parliamentary level. We are calling for a full investigation and decisive action.”
Now the DA has turned on Kumalo, with the party deciding to submit a no-confidence motion in the speaker, accusing her of bias towards the ANC and preventing the council from performing its democratic function of holding the executive to account.
Campbell undertook to take the Masina issue and power outages to Parliament and the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs.