The Democratic Alliance’s (DA’s) government in the Western and Eastern Cape provinces is facing troubing times; more specifically Cape Town and Nelson Mandela Bay where the party is currently in control. In Cape Town the DA is presiding over a divided council and in Nelson Mandela Bay they face an ousting, brought on by their largest coalition partner for reasons completely unrelated to the DA’s leadership.
Nelson Mandela Bay, Eastern Cape
The DA’s Athol Trollip took the Mayor’s position of Nelson Mandela Bay after joining into coalitions with the United Democratic Movement (UDM) and the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) parties shortly after the 2016 local government elections. From the start the DA and EFF were strange bedfellows given their politics and positions on the political compass. It was only a matter of time before this coalition would fall apart; it is now ending.
The DA is a predominantly centrist party that believes in privatization and capitalism while the EFF is a radical communist party intent on state ownership of most assets and land expropriation without compensation. This contrast alone should have been indication enough that a coalition between the two would not last; it’s survival was ensured only by the scandalous Jacob Zuma administration of the time.
Now that Jacob Zuma is no longer President and the current Cyril Ramaphosa administration has put land expropriation without compensation back on the table with a subsequent endorsement by Parliament to amend the constitution to allow this, the EFF is no longer interested in maintaining its coalition with the DA and would rather throw their support behind the ANC.
The EFF’s decision to end the Nelson Mandela Bay coalition with the DA has everything to do with the different stances both parties have on the land expropriation issue and nothing to do with the local DA government’s performance or integrity.
Given the fact that the EFF decided to unseat Trollip in Nelson Mandela Bay before attempting to unseat DA mayors Herman Mashaba of Johannesburg or Solly Msimanga of Pretoria/Tshwane indicates racism within the EFF. Malema was reportedly quoted as saying “[W]e are going to remove a mayor of *PE … [w]e are going for your white man in PE. We are going to cut the throat.” *PE is Port Elizabeth – former name of Nelson Mandela Bay. The EFF has responded with its own allegations of racism against the DA in Nelson Mandela Bay.
Malema recently added to the perception that his party is outright racist by explicitly stating that they are removing Trollip simply because he’s white.
Cape Town, Western Cape
The City of Cape Town’s council is not a picture of unity following recent allegations of tender fraud and bad governance against Mayor Patricia de Lille. The reason for the discord is a motion of no confidence that she survived by one vote. Of the 231 Councillors, 109 voted in favor of the motion and 110 voted against it, the latter saving de Lille’s position as Mayor; three abstained.
Councillors from both the DA and the ANC saved de Lille’s position. If the DA Councillors voted in unison then they might have successfully ousted her due to the DA’s majority in the City of Cape Town’s council. The fact that the DA failed to achieve de Lille’s removal within their own caucus is indicative of a rift within the party locally. Furthermore the results of the no confidence vote shows Cape Town’s council is divided in their opinion of their Mayor.
It is important to note that. unlike the problems in Nelson Mandela Bay, the recent troubles in the Cape Town metro are very unlikely to affect the DA’s position of power in Cape Town and the Western Cape Provincial Parliament. It is likely the DA will find a solution before the current rift becomes a real problem for their government, such as the the Cape Town metro being placed under administration by the national government.
Mayor de Lille has insisted on her innocence throughout the ordeal and asked for the opportunity to clear her name. She was grateful to the ANC and DA Councillors who voted in her favour while the DA was left red-faced. The DA and its leader Mmusi Maimane were also criticized for presenting the allegations against de Lille without sufficient proof.