Crunch time in battle for Bay

Parties set to announce decisive coalitions today

After two weeks of nail-biting uncertainty and intense horse-trading behind the scenes, political parties will finally reveal today which parties – if any – they will team up with to form a coalition government in Nelson Mandela Bay.

Multiple media briefings will be held today, nationally and in the Bay, on the outcome of sensitive, back-to-back meetings with the various party leaders.

Those making their announcements today include the DA, ANC, EFF, COPE and UDM.

The crucial announcements, and ultimately tomorrow’s council meeting, could usher in a new era for the Bay with a completely new government, or it could see the old guard back in City Hall – with some minority parties in tow.

EFF insiders said yesterday it had been decided at the central command team meeting on Monday night that the party would not form a coalition government with either the DA or the ANC.

A source, who was part of the national negotiation team, said both parties had failed to persuade the EFF to take sides on who should govern the councils.

“After lengthy discussions and negotiations, the EFF decided they will abstain from voting,” the source said.

“They claim they respect . . . that voters did not give them a mandate to govern.”

Another insider at the EFF meeting on Monday said the party would limit its participation in councils to deliberations on policy issues.

“We will vote on issues‚ but not on who gets what position or from which party a mayor must come. “We do not have a mandate from our people to govern.”

The EFF’s leaders are, however, staying mum, saying only that all will be revealed at a national media briefing at midday.

EFF deputy president Floyd Shivambu wrote on Twitter: “Most mainstream media is making wild and sorry speculations about so-called coalitions. “The EFF is speaking on Wednesday at 12pm to settle it.”

The EFF’s Bay regional secretary, Zilindile Vena, said they were waiting for the national leadership to make the announcement today.

Should the EFF decide not to support either party, it would be a major blow for the ANC in the Bay as it would not be able to form a coalition government. The ANC needs 11 seats – of which six would have to come from the EFF – while the DA needs only four seats to push through its bid to take over the municipality.

The DA has 57 seats to the ANC’s 50 out of a total of 120 council seats.

The UDM, AIC, ACDP, COPE, Patriotic Alliance and United Front have a combined seven seats.

It is understood that the AIC, Patriotic Alliance and United Front in the metro were leaning toward supporting an ANC-led coalition, while the other partieshad been waiting for the final word from their national bosses.

The Patriotic Alliance’s regional executive members distanced themselves yesterday from their provincial leader, Marlon Daniels, who has been leading the party’s coalition discussions with the ANC in the Bay.

The Patriotic Alliance has not negotiated with the DA. Speaking from the Endangered Species offices in Gelvandale yesterday, Patriotic Alliance regional chairman Justin Oliphant said Daniels had been negotiating with parties without consulting the local structures.

Oliphant claimed Daniels had misrepresented the party and the last time any regional member had contact with him was on election day.

“No mandate has been issued by either our voting constituency, executive membership or leadership,” he said.

“There is no political party bigger than the will of the people and we, as community leaders and activists, [must] come to a point where we realise the will of the people is what drives us. “After consulting with our members, we have decided to institute a vote of no-confidence against Mr Marlon Daniels and to distance ourselves from all decisions and representations made by him [on coalitions].”

Daniels, however, claimed the party had no regional committee in this region.

He said the regional executive committee had been disbanded on June 27. He also accused the members involved in the media briefing of ganging up against him because “I reprimanded them for trying to use the party as a means of making money”.

On the possibility of a motion of no-confidence against him, Daniels said: “I don’t even think they have confidence in themselves and what they were doing.

“If they felt there was an urgency to call a meeting or press conference, they could have spoken to me, and if they did not want to speak to me, they have the contact numbers for the national structures, but they can’t just go around calling meetings and press briefings.”

ANC regional task team coordinator Beza Ntshona said the party had confined its discussions with smaller parties to a local level.

“There was no positive or negative indication from the EFF,” he said.

“We are waiting for feedback from them on their decision. “They did say they would wait for their national leadership to make a decision. “We said let us localise our discussions looking at issues happening in Nelson Mandela Bay.”

It is understood that former mayor Danny Jordaan and Human Settlements Minister Lindiwe Sisulu were among those leading the ANC’s Bay discussions.

It has been trying to form alliances with all smaller parties. The ANC in the Bay will make its pronouncements on coalitions today.

The UDM, said to have been offered the deputy mayor position by both the ANC and DA in the Bay, was also tying up loose ends yesterday to make a final decision and announcement today.

UDM leader Bantu Holomisa said: “I am sure all other parties will announce their decision [today] as the council meeting there [Bay] sits on Thursday,” Holomisa said.

He declined to comment on talk that its regional chairman, Mongameli Bobani, had been offered the deputy mayor post by both parties, saying negotiations were still at a sensitive stage. “Unfortunately, we cannot reveal what offers have been made by which party,” he said.

The DA has been wooing the UDM – which has two seats – and the ACDP and COPE, with one each. However, infighting over who will occupy COPE’s seat in the metro could jeopardise its bid to run the Bay.

Should COPE side with the ANC, the DA would need to cosy up to another minority party. DA federal executive chairman James Selfe said the DA’s decision on coalitions would be announced today.

“Negotiations are still ongoing,” he said.

COPE national spokesman Dennis Bloem said their decision would be announced today.

He said they would not go into coalition with a party that did not respect the constitution or Chapter Nine institutions.

The United Front’s Irvin Jim said coalition discussions were still ongoing and an announcement could be made today. – Additional reporting by Melitta Ngalonkulu

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