A new chapter in the governance of Nelson Mandela Bay is likely to be cemented in the next few days, with the DA yesterday declaring it was in the final stages of sewing up a coalition deal.
It was also announced yesterday that Monday’s much anticipated council elections had been postponed to Thursday – two days before the deadline for such a meeting expires.
Following a week of intense wheeling and dealing with minority political parties in the wake of one of the biggest metro power switches in the country, specific partnerships have all but been sealed as far as the DA is concerned, with the ANC still scrambling to strike up alliances.
The ANC needs 11 seats to take control of the municipality whereas the DA needs just four.
The DA’s federal executive chairman, James Selfe, said they were confident of finalising coalitions deals in the Bay and would make an announcement during the course of the weekend or early next week.
He said they had made encouraging progress with the UDM, COPE and the ACDP.
“We have been in discussions with parties. There is promising progress and we hope to sum up everything over the weekend.
“We thought it was best to discuss coalitions with the national leadership,” Selfe said.
“We have talked to parties in Nelson Mandela Bay, crucially the UDM,” he said.
Asked if the DA had made a deal with the EFF for the Bay, Selfe said: “There is a different process with the EFF because there are more complex issues, but they do not involve Nelson Mandela Bay.”
He said it was likely the UDM, COPE and the ACDP would form part of their coalition government to take charge of the Bay’s council.
“It is speculation at the moment, but it is likely to happen.”
Selfe said documents had already been sent out to the UDM, COPE and the ACDP.
“They will discuss it with their national structures. It is possible that their leadership might want to change something,” he said.
ANC regional task team coordinator Beza Ntshona said they were waiting for the minority parties to give them a response on coalition discussions.
“We have been having discussions with all the parties except the DA. But the decision lies with the national structures of each party,” he said.
“By next week there will be a clear direction on what is happening – who will be a majority.
“By law we must finish all these processes within 14 days [of the announcement of results].”
Asked if their mayoral hopeful, Danny Jordaan, would attend next week’s council meeting, Ntshona said: “There is no problem with comrade Danny, he is still number one on the list.
“He has received the agenda and will be attending the meeting. He represents the ANC.”
But as far as the ANC’s coalition aspirations were concerned, several minority parties voiced their dissatisfaction with what the party was offering, with others saying they were unlikely to form a coalition with the ANC.
There is also a possibility of the EFF not taking either side.
Selfe said they had not approached the Patriotic Alliance.
“We don’t want to deal with them, they are not particularly crucial. There are many things in their manifesto which do not align with our policies.”
He said the African Independent Congress had not responded when the DA approached it.
Bay mayor-elect, the DA’s Athol Trollip, said yesterday: “I cannot comment yet, parties are still giving feedback.”
DA provincial chairwoman Veliswa Mvenya said: “Discussions are still going on. We thought they would be done yesterday [Thursday], but nothing has been finalised.”
Yesterday, UDM leader Bantu Holomisa met all his party’s councillors in the Eastern Cape in Mthatha to brief them about coalition discussions they had had in Johannesburg.
“We are still in a meeting to analyse all the discussions from the DA and the ANC. We are not only talking to the DA, we are also talking to the ANC,” he said.
“This will take time. We are far from reaching a solution.”
Insiders in the EFF said yesterday they would not go into a coalition with the ANC.
They added that if the DA was not willing to agree to their terms, then the party would not be part of any coalition.
However, the EFF’s chief negotiator, Advocate Dali Mpofu, was in the Bay yesterday.
EFF regional co-coordinator Zilindile Vena said the party was not in a hurry for anything.
“Today [yesterday] we are meeting with Mpofu. These negotiations can drag on until Sunday,” Vena said. Insiders in the UF said they were not happy with what the ANC brought to the table.
“They have offered us a position in the mayoral committee. We told them that we need a clear framework of the negotiations and positions will come after,” an insider said.
“A deputy mayor does not have much power except to go around cutting ribbons or attending gala dinners. We cannot be happy about that.”
UF regional secretary Mkhuseli Mtsila would only say the coalition talks were continuing.
ACDP national chairwoman Jo-Anne Downs said they were meeting today to make a final decision.
“It is unlikely that we will go with the ANC, but nothing is finalised as yet,” she said.
Both COPE president Mosiuoa Lekota and Nelson Mandela Bay regional chairman Khwezi Ntshanyana could not be reached for comment yesterday.
Acting city manager Johann Mettler said the council meeting scheduled for Monday had been rescheduled to Thursday at 10am because a number of councillors had either not received their council agendas or received them late.