WATCH: eThekwini councillors present Zuma with bull for ‘saving’ the metro from DA

The ANC looked set to lose control of the eThekwini metropolitan municipality after it had in previous days lost several key metros in Gauteng.

A group of ANC eThekwini councillors descended to former president Jacob Zuma’s Nkandla homestead on Thursday to present him with a bull as a token of appreciation after “his role in saving” the municipality following the African National Congress’s (ANC) disastrous local government elections last month.

The ANC looked set to lose control of the eThekwini metropolitan municipality after losing several key metros including Johannesburg and Ekurhuleni to the Democratic alliance (DA) just days before the eThekwini voting process took place.

This was after the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) pulled out of its agreement with the ruling party and decided to side with the DA and EFF to oust the ANC, as had happened in Gauteng.

It is believed Zuma intervened and managed to sway ANC breakaway member, former uMvoti municipality mayor, and current Abantu Batho Congress (ABC) president Philani ‘PG’ Mavundla to convince smaller parties to vote with the ANC after the first meeting was disrupted by protesters in ANC T-shirts.

In a shocking move, the ANC removed councillor Nthokoza Sibiya from its executive committee list and replaced her with Mavundla, who is now deputy to mayor Mxolisi Kaunda.

President Cyril Ramaphosa described the booting out of the ANC from power in big municipalities as a big setback for the governing party.

“As the president of the governing party, it is disappointing for the ANC but we should accept the clear message of our people on the ANC. We’ve taken heed and listened, and this for us is a big setback, but it is also a big lesson,” Ramaphosa said.

“We are a party that learns very quickly and we are going to go back to the drawing board. We’re going to reflect on all these setbacks.”

Maturing democracy

Despite losing the metros to the opposition, Ramaphosa said the events unfolding in the country were a sign that South Africa’s democracy was maturing.

“What is unfolding is how democracy works. This is the footsteps, if you like, of democracy and we’ve seen it play out throughout the country,” he said.

ALSO READ: ‘Power nightmare’ awaits ‘lost’ ANC – experts

While acknowledging that coalitions can be fragile and sometimes messy, Ramaphosa called on all parties that have emerged victorious in the polls to focus on service delivery and ensure that their coalition arrangements don’t collapse.

“All we what to see, speaking now as the president of the republic, I’d like to see stability in our local government sector that whatever coalitions have been formed and are being formed will result in stable local government.

“I call on those who have emerged victorious to ensure there is a stable government and congratulate those who have succeeded,” Ramaphosa said.