ActionSA leader Herman Mashaba has confirmed that opposition parties have rejected the Democratic Alliance’s (DA’s) proposal to have its mayoral candidates appointed to run the City of Johannesburg and Tshwane, in the event of a coalition agreement between parties.
This follows Monday’s meeting in Sandton, Johannesburg, that was convened by the Freedom Front Plus (FF Plus) in a bid to find common ground among opposition parties on coalition talks in Tshwane, Johannesburg and Ekurhuleni.
The meeting was attended by Mashaba, DA leader John Steenhuisen and United Democratic Movement (UDM) leader Bantu Holomisa, as well as, representatives from the Congress of the People (Cope), the Patriotic Alliance (PA) and the African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP).
The ANC and the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) were excluded from the meeting.
Mashaba said parties closed the door on the DA’s proposal because the DA believed that, as the biggest party that received the most votes, its candidates should get the mayoral chains in both metros.
“The stumbling block that all the parties rejected was for the DA when they said – because they claim to be the bigger party – they wanted their mayoral team to be in both Johannesburg and Tshwane.
“All the parties, without exception, said ‘please don’t insult us, there’s no weak party here. We are all equal and there’s no one who got an outright majority’,” Mashaba said, in an interview with the SABC’s The Watchdog programme.
The ActionSA leader accused the DA of negotiating in bad faith and undermining the other parties.
“From the beginning with the DA, I think I have the sense that they were trying to negotiate with a divide-and-rule kind of strategy [by] talking to different parties separately as if they’re the main coordinators of these discussions,” he said.
Mashaba said they told the DA to consult with its federal executive on the matter, and the party agreed to return with feedback. However, Mashaba said he was surprised that the DA held a media briefing on Tuesday and did not mention this.
ActionSA paid for meeting venue
He said the FF Plus came up with the idea to convene Monday’s meeting and the DA should not take credit for it, adding that ActionSA paid for the venue in Sandton.
“We’ve not asked anyone to come to the party and assist us to pay for the venue, but we are comfortable with this because it is for the country and we want political parties that want to form a government and provide service delivery to South Africans,” Mashaba said.
Speaking at the media briefing on Tuesday, Steenhuisen said coalitions negotiations in Gauteng’s three major metros had proven to be challenging and complex.
He announced that the DA had agreed to bilateral engagements with ActionSA, the FF Plus and the ACDP on forming coalitions.
“The meeting essentially ended with us agreeing to go and have a look at what is possible in the metros and to continue the engagement ahead of trying to be able to form a key government there,” Steenhuisen said.
Steenhuisen said the PA’s decision to pull out of the coalition talks, after agreeing to a power-sharing deal with ANC, narrowed the opposition’s chances of taking control of Johannesburg from the ANC.
“The implications for a place like Joburg are that it narrows the path to an opposition majority considerably. Part of the reason we were starting initial conversations yesterday [Monday] was to try and see if we could form together that opposition coalition,” he said.
However, Steenhuisen said a path for the opposition to take over Tshwane seemed very likely.
“There is very much a victory open to the opposition. That’s the DA, ActionSA, the FF Plus, the ACDP and Cope can make the 108 required to have a majority there. You add the IFP [Inkatha Freedom Party] into the mix and that’s another seat there.”
Parties have until 23 November to form coalition governments in the country’s 66 hung municipal councils.