As the ANC mulls over coalitions in the Tshwane, Joburg and Ekurhuleni metros, the daggers are again out for President Jacob Zuma in Gauteng following the party’s dismal performance in South Africa’s economic hub.
All three metros are hung, with no party having an outright majority. The DA has a bigger share of the vote in Tshwane and the ANC bigger shares in the other two.
With the ANC losing Tshwane to the DA and managing to hang on to Joburg and Ekurhuleni only by a thin margin, Gauteng ANC leaders have renewed their call for Zuma to step down.
They believe he is “the elephant in the room” that cost them the votes because of the corruption allegations and many scandals associated with his administration. They also accused him of “messing up” their election campaign because of his racially divisive statements towards the DA.
The calls for Zuma’s head, along with the possible permutations of coalition governments, will be high on the agenda when the provincial executive council meets on Monday.
The Star’s sister paper, The Sunday Independent, reported that there might be calls from within the ANC national executive committee (NEC) for an early or special conference where an “elegant exit” for Zuma could be arranged.
The election results announced by the Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) confirmed that, for the first time, the ANC failed for get more than 50 percent in the key Gauteng metros.
In Joburg, the ANC got 44.55 percent and the DA 38.37 percent (121 seats for the ANC, 104 for the DA).
In Tshwane, the DA got 43.11 percent and the ANC 41.22 percent (93 seats for the DA, 89 for the ANC).
In Ekurhuleni, the ANC got 48.64 percent and the DA 34.15 percent (109 seats for the ANC, 77 for the DA).
The Star spoke to three senior ANC leaders in Gauteng, who corroborated one another in their stance against Zuma, and the permutations of coalitions.
“One of the reasons we lost is that at the PEC (provincial executive committee), we softened that stance because the other groupings sold us out because they said let’s defer,” said one leader. He was referring to the provincial leadership’s position in April when it resolved that Zuma should resign as party head and state president.
They blamed the divisions within the provincial leadership on “Zuma’s dictatorship”.
“Dictators survive by weakening the organisation. They attack the organisation where it is strong, and Gauteng is weaker because we are divided. That’s how dictators work,” said the leader.
He said while the issue of e-tolls remained problematic, Zuma was too costly and had spoilt their campaign.
“The Gauteng ANC campaign was based on taking mayoral candidates to the people, in terms of their performance. We had a provincial launch and cities launch to give exposure to the mayor candidates. But when they came with this man, his campaign was negative, saying the DA is a white party and Mmusi Maimane is working with the whites.
“He actually messed up our campaign because he made statements that were racially divisive.”
Poor performance has forced both the ANC and DA to scramble for coalitions, but Gauteng ANC leaders said this would by no means be an easy task.
“It’s going to be a tough, tough decision to make,” said another leader, giving scenarios of the options available.
The first option would be a coalition of all major parties, “with a threshold of anything from all parties who got 5 percent. First, as the ANC, we must accept that we didn’t win and that other parties got significant support. In this situation, no party has the power to control the municipality alone. So a government of regional unity, where all the major parties work together, is what we could need.”
“The other option is for the two parties that are almost in a stalemate to approach the smaller parties to keep out the other. But if you leave the DA, they may paralyse the government by refusing to co-operate,” he explained.
While the EFF looks like a viable option for the ANC, the sticking point was the acrimony between the red berets and the ANC’s national leadership.
“The EFF says that if anything, Zuma must resign. The ANC, on the other hand, refuses to acknowledge the EFF and has set special rules in Parliament to deal with them. But the hostility towards the EFF is a result of a faction of the ANC.”
He said that if no agreement was reached for a coalition, the provincial government would have to ask the MEC for local government to run the cities while waiting for a re-election because of the stalemate.
Gauteng ANC spokesman Nkenke Kekana said the fact that there was no outright winner in Joburg, Tshwane and Ekurhuleni meant there were hung councils, necessitating coalition governments.
DA Gauteng leader John Moodey dismissed suggestions of a coalition with the ANC and reiterated the need for an alliance with the EFF
“The EFF are critical but we won’t go into coalitions for the sake of governing. We need to look at how to constitute an effective government. But there are overtures to meet each other.”