Relationship with Active United Front crucial to swing hung council
While Bitou’s first council meeting is scheduled for today, uncertainty remains who will take control following the recent local government elections which showed that the municipality had yet again become a hung council.
While the DA in the region said yesterday that the ANC and the Active United Front (AUF) had formed a coalition to lead the municipality, the ANC’s senior members were adamant that nothing had been finalised.
The election results showed that while the DA received the majority of votes with 48.58% of support, it was not enough to secure the party an outright majority.
The party was allocated six seats in council.
Four of these seats went to candidates who won four of the coastal holiday town’s wards.
The ANC received 40.99% of the votes, also giving it six seats, while the AUF managed 5.36% of the support for the final seat.
Since the release of the results, the DA in the Southern Cape had lodged a dispute with the Electoral Commission (IEC) over alleged issues with the calculation of the results.
Bitou DA campaign manager Liz Mundell said yesterday the IEC had, however, confirmed that the results were correct.
“We lost the seventh seat by a tiny fraction. It means that if 21 more people had come in to vote for the DA we would have won outright,” she said.
Mundell said the AUF had gone into coalition with the ANC.
But ANC Southern Cape secretary Major Sokopo said yesterday that a coalition agreement with the AUF had not been finalised.
“We do, however, hope that it will be finalised before the council meeting,” Sokopo said.
The meeting is scheduled for 9am today after which the newly elected councillors will be introduced to the public at the KwaNokuthula Sports Stadium at noon.
A similar situation played out following the 2011 local government elections when the municipality became a hung council following ANC rule before that.
This resulted in a subsequent power struggle between the two main parties, which ultimately led to political turmoil and several court battles in 2014.
During the previous local government elections COPE secured the final seat in what became a hung council.
COPE subsequently formed a coalition with the DA to lead the municipality. In 2014, then deputy mayor Adam van Rhyner of COPE, however went against his party’s national coalition agreement with the DA in hung councils and decided to side with six ANC councillors to call for a special council meeting to serve a motion of no confidence in mayor Memory Booysen.
This was followed by three Cape Town High Court applications, including one to stop the meeting from taking place.
The saga, however, came to an end when one of the ANC councillors, Nolan Stuurman, resigned.
The DA won Stuurman’s ward in a by-election giving the party an outright majority.