The party said a series of engagements within the Ekurhuleni multiparty coalition revealed that some parties may be “more committed than others” to making the coalition last long enough to survive what it called an imminent motion of no confidence or the passing of a budget.
“It is important to note that for ActionSA to enter the coalition arrangement in Ekurhuleni was a difficult decision because a multiparty coalition government could only survive with the support of either the ANC or the EFF. Such would be impossible from the ANC, given their ambition to have the municipality back, leaving only the EFF.
“When the arrangements were being concluded, ActionSA expressed reservations about the lack of clarity around how such support could be obtained in order to prevent us entering into a doomed arrangement. We were assured that every effort would be made, and, in good faith, we accepted this and joined the arrangement,” said chairperson Michael Beumont.
The DA-led coalition was formed after former ANC mayor Mzwandile Masina was relegated to the opposition benches when the EFF voted for the DA following last year’s local polls.
DA coalition ‘vulnerable
The bone of contention was the election of section 79 committee chairs. The red berets wanted to head up committees in exchange for their vote.
The DA rejected the EFF’s proposition, which won’t bode well for the multy-party coalition, ActionSA party leader Herman Mashaba.
“Look at the vulnerability of the DA now in Ekurhuleni. But we are not going to walk away from this coalition, we hope sense will prevail. As ActionSA, we are not looking for favours from anyone…we’re not friends with anyone. We just want a stable coalition government.”
Beumont said his party’s senate decided to voice out its concerns after realising that building a stable coalition may have been “a hollow commitment” to keep the ANC out of Ekurhuleni.
“A meeting of the Coalition Oversight Group took place last Wednesday, intended to discuss solutions to the challenge in Ekurhuleni.
“The outcome of the meeting was that no engagement would be had with the EFF, that matters would be left to the local councillors to reach an agreement and that the group would not even favour the EFF with a response. In ActionSA’s view, this outcome will seal the fate of the coalition in Ekurhuleni.”
The DA formed a coalition with the help of smaller parties.
Said Beumont: “The support of the EFF was the only viable option for the Ekurhuleni coalition government to survive what is likely to be an ANC-sponsored motion of no confidence within the next month or two. It is also the only way that a sufficient majority could be obtained to approve a budget and the service delivery plans of the City in May in the unlikely event that the coalition lasts until then.”
According to Beumont, the DA leadership inundated Mashaba with calls requesting him to negotiate with the EFF on behalf of them, and get the red berets to agree to vote with DA in Ekurhuleni. DA chairperson Helen Zille formally made that request to Mashaba, Beumont added.
The DA has previously re-iterated that it would never work with the EFF or the ANC in councils.
‘ActionSA distorting facts’
Zille took to social media on Monday, lambasting Beumont for “distorting facts.”
She said after the EFF voted for DA mayors without the party asking them to, the red berets decided to vote with the ANC in Ekurhuleni and managed to get five committee chairs.
The EFF, without any involvement with the DA, changed its voting position from the one it adopted in the mayoral election, said Zille.
“The next metro to elect chairs was Johannesburg. The Johannesburg Mayor, the DA’s Mpho Phalatse, wanted to know whether the EFF would repeat the Ekurhuleni pattern in the vote for committee Chairs in Johannesburg.
“As she has a good rapport with Herman Mashaba, and as Herman is in contact with the EFF, she merely asked him to get that information so that she could be prepared for what lay ahead.”
According to Zille, Action SA then asked that the request be formally submitted by DA leader John Steenhuisen, but that never went any further.
“It is therefore entirely disingenuous to claim that the DA asked ActionSA to approach the EFF to bring it into any form of agreement ‘to keep the coalition alive’. Implying that we were prepared to consciously bring the EFF into government is a severe distortion of the truth.
“This also reveals why ActionSA was so insistent on getting a formal request from the DA leader. This did not materialise. We cannot let this disinformation remain in the public domain without an immediate response.”
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