The battle for control of Nelson Mandela Bay is far from over with the ANC signalling yesterday that the party was still in the race to form a coalition government ahead of Thursday’s critical city council meeting.
Even ANC mayoral candidate Danny Jordaan broke cover to say the party was negotiating with some of the smaller political parties with the hopes of forming a coalition government.
This emerged at an ANC regional task team (RTT) media briefing at the party’s regional headquarters, Florence Matomela House in Port Elizabeth, yesterday. It was also attended by Human Settlements Minister Lindiwe Sisulu.
This was the first time that Jordaan, who delivered the party’s statement to the media and fielded a limited number of questions, has been seen at a public engagement by the media since election day. He is said to be one of the main players with Sisulu, who is leading coalition negotiations in the Bay.
The DA, which secured the majority of votes but fewer wards than the ANC in the Bay, has – along with the ANC – been locked in intense negotiations with a range of minority parties.
A coalition has to be formed before Saturday, or there would have to be another election. A council meeting, originally scheduled for today, will be held on Thursday to elect a new speaker, mayor and deputy.
In its strongest indication that it would contest the closely fought election process through to its end, Jordaan said: “No party received more than 50% in the metro – contrary to the misinformation by some desperate elements that seem to suggest that they are winners.
“It is for this reason that the ANC appreciates the cooperation of other political parties to form a coalition government.”
“These talks are under way and are at a very sensitive stage. We will communicate with the mediaand public by Wednesday when these are finalised.”
Jordaan said the task team felt that the approach on coalitions should be based on the principle that those with whom the party worked would be prepared to advance the agenda of “radical socioeconomic transformation”.
This has been one of the strong calls from the United Front. “They must be pro-poor,” J o rd a a n said. He was also adamant the party would not entertain any speculation or any questions around the ANC’s coalition plans or negotiations.
Interjecting on behalf of Jordaan, Sisulu was quick to inform The Herald that Jordaan remained the party’s mayoral candidate for the Bay.
Neither Jordaan nor Sisulu would be drawn into any discussion around what had led to the ANC’s final voting result in the Bay.
The UDM, which is likely to join forces with the DA, said there were no formal deals on the table. UDM regional chairman Mongameli Bobani said: “Nothing has been finalised yet.
We are waiting for final of fers. “It is still a very sensitive situation at this stage”. Attempts to reach DA mayoral candidate Athol Trollip and DA federal executive chairman James Selfe were unsuccessful.
Selfe told Times Media on Friday that the DA would likely join forces with the UDM, ACDP and COPE to take charge of the Bay’s council. “It is speculation at the moment, but it is likely to happen,” Selfe said.
Meanwhile, smaller political parties in the metro reported on Saturday that they had joined forces to form a coalition block to be able to negotiate with either the DA or ANC towards a partnership.
Representatives from COPE, the United Front (UF) and the Patriotic Alliance (PA) said they had held discussions with the EFF, UDM, ACDP and the African Independent Congress (AIC) in the Bay with the hope of getting them to join their block.
This, they believe, will ensure that the smaller parties speak as one united voice.
The three have one seat each. Speaking from Numsa’s regional offices in Port Elizabeth on Saturday, representatives of the three parties said the purpose of forming the block was to prevent “divide-andr ule” tactics by either the DA or ANC.
The DA has 57 seats and needs four more to make up themajority in the council, while the ANC has 50 seats and needs 11 to control the municipality.
The UF, PA and COPE said that the other smaller parties – which together make up 13 seats in the council – were keen to join them in voting as a block, but they could not pronounce yet because their mandate was decided at a national level.
PA Eastern Cape leader Marlon Daniels said: “As parties, we have come to an agreement that we will stand together during this period. “We believe that we will strengthen ourselves, being regarded as smaller parties, and we will speak as a single voice, a united voice with either the ANC or the DA.”
Daniels said if the block chose not to form a coalition with either the ANC or DA because they could not agree to non-negotiables, they would have no qualms about doing so.“On the 20th there has to be a government in place, or there will have to be another election and we’re ready for that,” Daniels said.
Despite the announcements by the block, COPE national spokesman Dennis Bloem said the party was not part of this coalition block.
Bloem said he had found out about the coalition block through the media and did not know who had given COPE in the metro the mandate to speak on behalf of the party.
“We don’t know of the block formed, ” he said. “We only learnt about the utterances through the media, and that is not the COPE position.”