DA leader nervous but excited about leading multiparty government
Winds of change will blow through Nelson Mandela Bay today when a new coalition government, with the DA’s Athol Trollip as the new mayor, takes over City Hall.
The UDM’s Mongameli Bobani, who brings with him his party’s two seats, is expected to be sworn in as Trollip’s deputy at a historic council meeting, which will see the ANC in the opposition benches for the first time since the dawn of democracy.
The ACDP and COPE – each with one seat – are touted to take charge of key portfolios in the mayoral committee, although the announcement could be made at a later stage.
The new coalition government is bolstered by the backing of the EFF, which said it would support the DA’s bid to form a new government in the Bay, but would not form any partnerships or sign any agreements with the party.
A buoyant Trollip, announcing the deal by the DA, UDM, COPE and ACDP at the Grand Hotel in Port Elizabeth yesterday afternoon, said the multiparty government would be officially elected today.
“Change has come to Nelson Mandela Bay and the elections have brought the ANC not only below 50%, they have been removed from power in the city,” he said.
“We look forward to forming a government [and] we accept the enormous responsibility with humility.
“We will have to show the people of the Bay that we, as four different political parties, can cooperate in their interests.
“I’m nervous about the massive responsibility of leading a multiparty government.
“We cannot trivialise the task ahead, but I’m also excited.”
Trollip said there were a number of similarities among the four parties’ manifestos.
He also acknowledged the EFF’s announcement that it would vote with the DA today, saying it accepted the endorsement.
“We expect vigorous opposition from the EFF – they will keep us on our toes,” Trollip said.
“The ANC has shown that it is weak as an opposition.”
Bobani said it was a historic moment for the metro.
“The people of the metro have spoken. It is they who made us come together today,” he said.
“No one knew that today we would be sitting in this brotherhood table.
“The people of this metro wanted it to be like this.
“We will not disappoint them. This government is putting their interests at heart.
“Gone are the days of putting the interests of individuals first.
“From now on, we will be working 24/7 – there will be no time for holidays.
“People are waiting for service delivery, we are ready to govern,” Bobani said.
COPE’s Siyasanga Si-jadu said she was excited about the new coalition agreement and it was time for everyone to roll up their sleeves and work for the residents of the Bay.
“COPE is excited to be part of that change. We are not going to make empty promises,” she said.
“We are ready to be a government that will ensure our people are taken care of.”
The ACDP’s national spokeswoman, Jo-Ann Downs, said at a press briefing in Johannesburg they would all remain individual parties with their unique identities, but they would cooperate to make a difference in the three metros.
“The looting of public money must stop. Corruption must stop. Jobs for pals must stop, and inflated tenders must stop,” Downs said.
In Alexandra township in Johannesburg, EFF leader Julius Malema said while the DA was a racist party that protected white monopoly capital, it was the “better devil” and that was why they would vote with the party in
councils. “There is no deal with the DA. The EFF will [take] its seats as the opposition,” he said.
“The EFF must earn their power, not through shortcuts. The EFF is not a home for opportunists.”
Malema said although he saw the DA as “white racists” it was worth making a pact with them to defeat the ANC.
“We are caught between two devils. The DA is a better devil than the ANC,” he said.
“We will vote for the opposition because the ANC must be removed from power.
“The DA must know [that] us voting for them does not mean we are partnering with them, but they are the better devils.
“We have no relationship with them … so we will continue fighting them in parliament,” Malema said.
The highly anticipated Bay council meeting will be held at the Feather Market Centre at 10am today, where the first order of business will be to elect a speaker.
Thereafter, a mayor will be elected, followed by the deputy and possibly the chief whip.
The DA signed coalition deals with the UDM, ACDP, COPE, FF Plus and IFP in some of the municipalities across the country, and with the EFF’s backing, it would be able to take over the running of Tshwane Municipality in Pretoria, and possibly Johannesburg, should a deal be reached over the mayoral candidate there.
With 57 seats in the Bay council and the additional four seats from its coalition parties, the DA would be able to pass council budgets and other agenda items with its combined 61-seat majority.
However, if just one of its councillors should be absent from a council meeting for any reason, it runs the risk of the ANC, EFF and other opposition parties ganging up to either push through, or overturn, decisions in the council.
Malema emphasised that the EFF would scrutinise the municipal budgets to ensure that residents received water, electricity and houses.
“I can assure you, the EFF will not vote for a budget that has bicycle lanes,” he said.
“Debts of the poor – water and electricity – should be cancelled.
“We cannot punish people for being poor. There must be a special rate for the poor.
“Our people must be relocated to the next available and open land and not be left to occupy shacks.
“Every budget passed through municipalities will have to come to us. We will see if the poor areas are included,” Malema said.