Analysis: DA outplays ANC and EFF in one genius move
Solly Msimanga is safe for at least three months as DA plays by the rulebook to defeat motion to oust him
The DA gave the ANC and the EFF a bloody nose in Tshwane, using the rulebook meticulously to frustrate both parties’ desperate attempts to remove executive mayor Solly Msimanga.
It was not supposed to be like this. The ANC and the EFF have the numerical superiority in the Tshwane council and their joint motion against Msimanga should easily have enjoyed a majority. But just as speaker Katlego Mathebe introduced the EFF’s motion to council, DA councillor and member of the mayoral committee for economic development Randall Williams rose to throw a spanner in the works.
He objected, saying the EFF motion should be disallowed because the party did not motivate for its urgency in writing, as per the rules of council. That immediately threatened the EFF’s endgame because it meant they would be forced to support the ANC’s motion, which the DA did not have procedural issues with.
Mathebe agreed with Williams, and with that one stroke of political genius the DA was able to ensure that Msimanga lived to fight another day. Mathebe’s ruling caught the EFF by surprise. So used are they to getting their way politically that they were left with no option but to stage a walkout and threaten to take the decision on review in the North Gauteng High Court.
“We are going to make sure as the EFF, we are going to take you to court, speaker, so that you are going to be compliant. You are disallowing our motion, speaker, you are declaring a war against us,” shrieked EFF leader in council Benjamin Disoloane, before leading his troops out of chambers on the first floor of Sammy Marks Square in the CBD.For the ANC though, it was a political train smash. With the EFF having walked out, there was no way that its own motion against the executive mayor would go through without the red berets’ 25 seats. After a lengthy caucus break, ANC whip in council Aaron Maluleka announced that they were also withdrawing their motion and heading to court.
ANC caucus spokesperson Lesego Makhubela said they had heard from their “own sources” in the DA that the speaker was as also going to disallow the ANC motion, based on a technicality.
“How the speaker treated the motion of the EFF is the same way she was going to treat the motion of the ANC,” Makhubela told journalists afterwards, saying they would seek legal advice on the way forward.
Triumphant DA councillors celebrated the sweet victory with chants of “Solly, Solly, Solly”. Their jubilation was justified. No one imagined that they would outwit two political rivals in one swift but lethal move.
They had studied the EFF motion in detail and went about punching holes in it, which was easy as the motion had been rushed through without following procedure.
The DA knew that the EFF’s insistence on claiming credit for political leaders’ scalps would be their ultimate undoing since there was no way they would agree to support an ANC motion and forego the glory of removing the second DA mayor in three days. The EFF fell for the bait, and the rest is history.
If the North Gauteng High Court does not agree with them on the urgency of this matter, or agrees that Mathebe’s ruling disallowing their motion was correct, the EFF will have to wait another three months before tabling another motion of no confidence in the mayor. For the ANC, however, the door is not completely shut.
Their walkout and that of the EFF meant that the council could not reach the required quorum of 108 to officially withdraw the motion brought forward by the official opposition. It still remains on the agenda. However, if they cannot convince the EFF to support their motion to remove Msimanga, that motion remains just a dud.
A relived Msimanga said the will of the people had prevailed.
“I remain undeterred in the face of these motions of no confidence in which the ANC attempts to depose the city’s government only to re-establish their networks of patronage, corruption and plundering the city’s coffers.
“We will not be deterred by the political posturing and grandstanding of the ANC,” he said in a statement afterwards.
But has the will of the people really prevailed or was the inevitable only delayed by a technicality?
Either way, we will eventually find out.