In a frank admission Gauteng Premier David Makhura has said he sometimes finds it easier to work with opposition parties in the municipalities under him, compared to the previous ANC leadership of which he is a part.
Makhura's comments follows the bruising municipal election of 2016 where the once mighty African National Congress lost some of their major municipalities and metros. The City of Johannesburg and Tshwane in particular fell to opposition parties, serving as a wake-up call to the ruling party which has said in the past it will govern until Jesus returns.
In statements on Thursday to members of the media Makhura went as far as to say he didn't mind being voted out in the next national election in 2019.
He spoke however of the importance of not sulking or crying over spilled milk but making the best of the current situation.
It's not given that everything we were doing was supported by the ANC people in the municipalities.
"It is painful. Not getting the 50% we need to govern Johannesburg and Tshwane is very painful but you move beyond the pain. That's what politics is about. If you get caught up there then you can't develop a strategy. You make the best of what you have. We have a province that has significant opposition presence in municipalities," he said.
Makhura called on people to take a leaf out of the British public's book following the Brexit. He said despite the situation being unfavourable, they have adapted to the reality and made things work despite the circumstances.
He said he recently spoke with a British politician who was opposed to Brexit but nonetheless saw the silver lining in the situation. He discussed exploring avenues that they could not tap into while they were part of the European Union.
"We did not want to lose Johannesburg and Tshwane but I can tell you we are looking for the best opportunities. It's not given that everything we were doing was supported by the ANC people in the municipalities. There are battles I won't share with you that we shouldn't have been having with them," he said, adding it was sometimes easier to work with those in the opposition.
Makhura admitted that party politics and factions hampered the implementation of programs to benefit residents of Gauteng. The loss of the metros he said had paved the way for the provincial government to implement some of the programmes that were not possible when the municipalities were still under the ANC leadership.
We are going to be able to do much quicker than when we were struggling with the ANC-led municipalities
He added that sometimes within the ANC municipalities, they would have discussions about policies which local government leaders would agree to but when it came to the implementation, they would frustrate the process.
"They will never raise it in a formal meeting. They frustrate you until the chicken comes home. Something you think has been resolved but you must keep coming back to it. Sometimes we are going to be able to do much quicker than when we were struggling with the ANC-led municipalities. This is all about political leadership. We are making the best out of this. There may be things that may not work like they did but we also think there will be things we will crack," he said.
Among the issues that Makhura admitted to being frustrated on was the establishment of a transport authority in the province. He said the ANC mayors were dragging their feet in signing off the deal but things have since changed with the new administrations. After just one meeting with the new mayors, Makhura now has his transport authority.
There are some municipalities that I don't feel the difference that its run by another party
"There will be a single transport authority in Gauteng to bring together the BRT, Gautrain [etc]. We are trying to get national government to delegate Metrorail responsibility to the transport authority to have a single ticket. To bring in the taxi industry in there so that there is a full feeder system so there is one public transport system in the province. It depends on how you look at it. There may be other things we may battle but on others we agree," he said.
Despite the painful loss, the province has ultimately found a working system with the opposition. The relationship is so good that Makhura has admitted to not even feeling the changes of the wind in certain municipalities.
"There are some municipalities that I don't feel the difference that its run by another party. Some municipalities are clearing out the same problems and some of them even told me before they became mayors that they would carry out our programmes," he said