On Wednesday, former Nelson Mandela Bay deputy mayor Mongameli Bobani was the subject of criticism after opposition parties reviewed the past year of coalition-led governance in the cities of Johannesburg, Tshwane and Nelson Mandela Bay.
In a joint statement read by Democratic Alliance (DA) leader Mmusi Maimane, leaders from the Congress of the People (COPE), African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP) and Freedom Front Plus (VF+) conceded that the last 15 months have not been easy but remain committed to coalition governance beyond 2019.
The opposition, including the United Democratic Movement (UDM) collectively govern metros Johannesburg, Tshwane, and Nelson Mandela Bay based on a coalition agreement signed after the August 2016 local elections.
“Make no mistake, governing in coalition has its challenges, which we have faced over the past 15 months but despite our challenges, we are committed to working together to bring change to lives of South Africans; Indeed, we have seen progress where we govern.
Where we do govern in coalition, we are hard at work in showing South Africans that there is an alternative to the ANC, and that alternative is a coalition-led government taking office at the Union Buildings in 2019,” the statement read.
Tense relations between the DA and smaller opposition parties, however, have threatened the party’s hopes of assuming power nationally in 2019 by forming a coalition government.
Last week, Johannesburg mayor Herman Mashaba and Nelson Mandela Bay mayor Athol Trollip survived motions of no confidence, after the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) voted with the DA.
In Nelson Mandela Bay, strained relations between the DA-led coalition partners were sparked by the DA’s decision to remove the UDM’s Bobani as deputy mayor of the Nelson Mandela Bay metro few months ago.
On the recent spate of motions of no confidence against DA leaders, the party said: “We will not allow the ANC to claim back power in cities where the voters rejected them, as they attempted to do with spurious Motions of No Confidence in both Johannesburg and Tshwane. Those motions were defeated, and rightly so.
The will of the people must always prevail”.
Bobani, a major talking-point of the media briefing in the absence of UDM leader, Bantu Holomisa was accused of failing to honour coalition agreement by voting with the ANC. COPE leader Mosiuoa Lekota said Bobani’s refusal to remove official vehicle blue lights was going against coalition agreement.
“The use of blue lights takes a lot of resources that can be used for housing, for water supply and things like that therefore we do not need it. We need this money to go to the services of the people. Then one person decides that they are going to use blue lights. Why do you need blue lights when people need water and housing? This is in violation of the agreement.
Surely, you can’t agree to be part of a coalition and then you want to go and collaborate with the opposition to the coalition. That cannot be right because that means you are breaking the agreement that you signed and agreed to implement,” said Lekota.
ACPD leader Rev. Kenneth Meshoe echoed Lekota’s sentiments. He said coalition governance requires principled individuals.
“It is betrayal that you make an agreement with someone and then behind your back you turnaround. That shows that some people are principled. Because we are principled people we believe that the DA will contine honring the agreement as we are honouring it,” said Meshoe.
Lekota also dispelled reports that the DA was stifling smaller opposition parties. He said opposition parties would pull out of the coalition agreement if they were no longer happy.
“We have no fear in anyway…we are not being misused by the DA. We came into the coalition voluntarily and if there is something we fundamentally do not agree with…we are very to say that we are pulling out,” said Lekota.