S. Africa Opposition Wants Deal to Shut ANC Out of Johannesburg

  • DA would run Johannesburg, EFF Rustenburg under proposed deal
  • No formal agreement has been reached between two parties

South Africa’s Democratic Alliance is proposing a deal that would allow it to run the country’s biggest city while giving a smaller rival control of its first municipality and locking the ruling African National Congress out of the management of the two cities.

The DA, the biggest opposition party, wants to secure support from the Economic Freedom Fighters for its nominee for mayor of Johannesburg. In exchange, it would back an EFF candidate in the platinum-mining hub of Rustenburg, according to a senior party leader who asked not to be identified because a formal agreement hasn’t been reached. Mbuyiseni Ndlozi, EFF spokesman and member of parliament, didn’t answer calls to his mobile phone.

The proposed deal would be unprecedented in modern South Africa and highlights just how much the ANC, which once dominated politics with a near-monolithic weight, is now on the back foot after its worst election result in the post-apartheid era. It would give the DA, which runs Cape Town, control of South Africa’s economic hub, the EFF its first chance to run a municipality and keep the ANC out of the management of two cities where it had a majority.

Ideological Opposites

While the DA’s pledge to make it easier to do business is diametrically opposed to the EFF’s call for the nationalization of mines, banks and land, both parties have said they are open to forming coalitions with each other but not the ANC.

For the EFF, governing Rustenburg would mark a leap from the politics of the street to having the responsibility of administering a city of 383,000 people. Founded in 2013 by former ANC youth wing leader, Julius Malema, following his expulsion from the ANC, the EFF’s lawmakers in parliament wear red miners’ helmets and overalls and routinely heckle President Jacob Zuma and his cabinet members, ignoring calls to order.

The Aug. 3 municipal elections have put metropolitan areas with annual budgets of about 130 billion rand ($10 billion) in play as the ANC, hurt by a stagnating economy and scandals around its leader President Jacob Zuma, retained outright control of three of South Africa’s eight biggest urban areas, down from seven in 2011.

Johannesburg’s Budget

In Johannesburg, which has an annual budget of more than 50 billion rand, the DA won 38.37 percent of the vote while the EFF, competing in its first local election, won 11.09 percent. The ANC saw its share of the vote slip to 44.55 percent from 58.56 percent.

In Rustenburg, which isn’t one of the country’s major metropolitan areas, the EFF won 26.76 percent, the DA 16 percent while smaller parties and independents with which it could form a coalition took about 9 percent. The ANC declined to 48.55 percent from 71.88 percent.

An agreement could be announced this weekend, the DA official said. The DA’s mayoral candidate in Johannesburg is Herman Mashaba, a cosmetics entrepreneur.

The EFF and the DA agreed on Wednesday to exchange documents over their approach to forming partnerships so that swapping councils would be possible, James Selfe, the DA’s Federal Executive Chairman, said in an interview.

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