The EFF is holding both the ANC and the DA to ransom in the Nelson Mandela Bay municipality, planning to kick mayor Athol Trollip to the curb while threatening to leave the city's administration defunct if the ANC does not provide a mayoral replacement that meets its standards.
Now calling the shots, the EFF has made it clear that its preferred ANC mayoral candidate is former deputy finance minister Mcebisi Jonas.
In an interview with HuffPost on Tuesday, EFF provincial coordinator in Eastern Cape Yazini Tetyana said the party's position is clear.
"[Jonas] is the candidate we are hoping the ANC can provide. If not, their candidate must have passed through the ANC's eye of the needle and must be a credible candidate. Anything else we will reject. You must remember, we don't have to vote [for a new administration]. We can equally sit and fold our arms if we don't get a credible candidate," Tetyana said.
This is a resounding endorsement of our coalition government in Nelson Mandela Metro. The voters of this city are determined that the change they voted for in 2016 is what they still want. The political parties who want to buck the Democratic wishes have been showed up. Thank you pic.twitter.com/FF0NA4vArD— Athol Trollip #SaveWater (@AtholT) March 7, 2018
Although the EFF holds only six of the 120 seats on Nelson Mandela Bay council, its threat is substantial because of the balance of power.
After the 2016 local government elections, the DA acquired 57 seats to the ANC's 50. The other seats went to the EFF (6), the United Democratic Movement (2), African Christian Democratic Party (1), Congress of the People (1), African Independent Congress (1), Patriotic Alliance (1), and the United Front of the Eastern Cape (1).
Because no party held a majority, the EFF, UDM and Cope threw their weight behind the DA to steal away the metro from the ANC. The EFF and the UDM together have the numbers to tip the balance of forces between the DA and the ANC, although the DA can hang on with support from four of the single-seat parties.
Tensions in the DA's informal coalition with the smaller parties grew last year, when the DA moved to axe UDM member and deputy mayor Mongameli Bobani (who faces allegations of corruption). Then, at a national level, the EFF's Julius Malema made good his threat to "punish" the DA for voting against the party's parliamentary motion for land expropriation without compensation. A vote of no confidence in Trollip has now been tabled by the EFF, and is set down for April 6.
"We are not in a coalition with the DA in Nelson Mandela Bay; there is no agreement to say that," Tetyana said. "We thought they are a better organisation than the ANC at that point [in 2016]. We take our mandate from our national leaders. But we can't say we did not have local issues in Nelson Mandela Bay that would warrant this [motion of no confidence]."
"There have been issues with infrastructure development and electrification in areas already structured. We said the budget must speak to the poor. We are happy that we have the opportunity to go back to Trollip and say we told you so."
Malema: if the ANC brings the wrong candidate, we won't vote. This will mean that Trollip will remain mayor. But he will not be a mayor through our votes. Nothing forces us to vote for either of the two. #RegisterToVoteEFF— #RegisterToVoteEFF (@EFFSouthAfrica) March 4, 2018
It is expected that the UDM will side with the EFF against the DA, and the ANC will acquire their votes along with those from the AIC and the PA. Cope and the ACDP, both of which also voted against the EFF's motion in Parliament, are expected to side with the DA. The balance of power, then, can be shifted by as little as one vote.
UDM leader Bantu Holomisa said his party started the process of removing Trollip (when it tabled a failed motion of no confidence against him last year), and welcomed the EFF's motion.
"The coalition is still there; we are still with the DA in Johannesburg. There were no winners in Nelson Mandela Bay, not the ANC or the DA. We have the right to exercise our votes. I said from day one that the clash between Trollip and Bobani will not work. I suggested we remove them both," Holomisa said.
"But the DA said only Bobani is wrong. So we cannot support a party who will not listen to us. I will not support people using apartheid tactics."
Malema: we told ANC that we want Mcebisi Jonas to be mayor in PE because he refused R600k from the Guptas. We want a clean person. The ANC must know that if there is no Mcebisi Jonas, we are going to fold our hands! #RegisterToVoteEFF— #RegisterToVoteEFF (@EFFSouthAfrica) March 4, 2018
But the DA's federal council chairman, James Selfe, believes the party is ready to take on the motion of no confidence in its mayor.
"We are in conversation with other parties and we are taking this vote very seriously... The last thing we want is to return the citizens of Nelson Mandela Bay back to the rampant corruption of successive ANC administrations. The EFF must carefully consider what they are doing and the repercussions of such," Selfe said.
"They will have to answer to their electorate if they allow this counterproductivity to take place."