The oppositional style of the EFF at national level challenged the status quo. From being branded the anarchist, disrespectful to being accused of bringing the house into disrepute. The electorate has entrusted the EFF to be the coalition main instigators. It remains to be seen how they will juggle and navigate through the complex partnership with DA whilst the ANC screams on the opposing end. As the parties are busy mulling partnerships and coalition nuts and bolts. The EFF stance of not entering into a coalition could result in a scenario where it agrees with the DA in Tshwane but disagrees in Nelson Mandela Bay. As things stand, it looks like there is a concerted effort to gang against the ANC in the coalition talks. The demands that were put in front of the ANC make it structurally impossible for the ANC to accede to. As Malema said, “There is no Mayorship for Danny Jordan. The ANC had a choice to choose between Zuma and Metros and they chose Zuma.” The election has come and gone, one thing that remains is that parties have an idea of where they are now than before the elections. It was indeed the most contested local government elections ever. Smaller parties have also had some bargaining tool in a meaningful way compared to previous elections. The AIC which looks set to be one of the major players in coalition politics is well poised to decide who governs in big metros like Ekurhuleni. It is perfectly poised to contribute in a meaningful way, thanks to the ANC’s dismal performance. All the other usual suspects like FF Plus, IFP, and UDM are also licking their lips across the country.
For the ANC, it was the question of the biggest you are, the harder you fall. Is a big blow for the 104 years old party which has seen its influence on Gauteng metros being derailed by five years. The overall numbers do not tell a good story for the ANC. They were basically pushed below 50% in Gauteng. Still a leading party, but the deceleration is alarmingly high. From governing with an outright majority in all Gauteng municipalities with the exception of the Midvaal municipality, to failing to out rightly retaining any of the Gauteng metros. The ANC has to reassert its political identity because the EFF is running away with the radical transformation agenda. Also, the racially accusatory opposition to the DA will not suffice given that the DA is cozy in an unstable coalition bed with the EFF. The DA will also claim they are governing with the vanguard of the poor, and that the ANC has been rejected. With the EFF in a coalition or voting mix, the anti-poor racist rants becomes shallow. So, the ANC has to find a way of regaining its lost votes, or else they risk the same fate in 2019. The ANC also suffered the sins of incumbency in which national politics is weighing heavily on voters mind. Every time Sanral sends an e-toll bill or any new scandal ,it is de-campaigning for the ANC. The economic hardships and unchallenged corruption accusations and perceived general arrogance, compounded the ANC’s troubles. I trust the party will bounce back and we are all waiting to see what posture and strategies it will employ.
The red berets are trying to use their newly found kingmaker status to advance their radical agenda. They know both leading parties are desperate for their stake. Fascinating scenarios are coming our way in municipal politics. Both parties could deliberately try and propose radical ideas to render each other anti-poor, and please the EFF in the same token. Issue by issue politics will suit and benefit the fighter’s fundamental agenda. With the EFF confirming that they will vote with the DA, It means that the ANC have to politically redefine itself or risk being politically swallowed. Presently, with the DA – EFF combination, any pro-poor accomplishments will be associated with the fighters, and good service delivery achievements with the DA. Where would the ANC fit in? It remains to be seen whether the ANC aligned unions will sabotage the DA – EFF authority through strikes and withdrawing labor or they will simply let the ANC fight its political battles. The ANC alliance partners are worried about the DA taking over metros. “It’s a message that is clear, very clear, it’s unambiguous – the DA will not be what the workers are looking for.” Sdumo Dlamini explained. Interestingly, it was the COSATU affiliated union that also cost the ANC votes, especially with the PIKITUP strikes in Johannesburg. They claim the DA policies are anti-workers and capitalist friendly. After failing to show up in the Marikina massacre commemoration, which the DA did, one wonders whether the alliance partners are really pro-workers.
The EFF inheritance of the ANC youth league structures immediately gave it a nationwide footprint. It has a vibrant youthful leadership which is giving the aging struggle ANC veterans a run around in parliament. For the EFF, is a question of making sure it does not suffer the COPE fate, and thus continues to grow. A love child of the ANC, as Mathews Phosa calls it, it adopted the ANC politicking but enhanced its radical feel. It will be available country-wide in councils and the municipal politics will never be the same. If it can manage to galvanize its youthful supporters to register and vote in 2019, a coalition government at national level would be a realistic possibility. The party knows its policies are central to national politics and have to adjust to local government service delivery driven politics. As Mbuyiseni Ndlozi puts it, “We are not unsophisticated. We know that municipalities‚ under current law‚ cannot expropriate land. But it can decide how municipal land‚ especially municipal land that lies fallow‚ is used and developed.” It is definitely going to be business unusual and a turbulent tenure for the ANC. Having dealt with the ANC as an opposition in Cape Town, the DA probably knows what to expect and seem to have won in Cape Town. One expects a lot of instability because the ANC will constantly try to break the bond. State patronage will allow the ANC to bargain and to attract smaller parties. Whatever happens, it is up to the ANC to do the “right thing”, to quote ANC Gauteng.
By Sivodlo Silombo
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