An informal cooperation agreement of South Africa’s main opposition Democratic Alliance struck with the radical Economic Freedom Fighters has unraveled, placing its control of several major cities at risk.
The DA and EFF teamed up to wrest control of the Tshwane municipality, which includes the capital, Pretoria, and Johannesburg, the economic hub, away from the ruling African National Congress in 2016 municipal elections. Now EFF leader Julius Malema has instructed his party’s councillors to abstain from municipal votes after its demand to be able to choose Tshwane’s mayor was rebuffed.
“We can’t keep voting for people who can’t vote for us,” Malema told reporters in Johannesburg on Tuesday. “Power sharing means give and take.”
While the EFF hasn’t indicated whether it will try and enlist the ANC’s support to topple DA mayors, it showed its willingness to work with the ruling party when they jointly voted out its mayor in the southern Nelson Mandela Bay municipality in August. The next municipal vote is due to take place in 2021.
The DA said it had worked well with the EFF and that their cooperation accord had served the best interest of the residents of municipalities where it ruled.
“If the EFF proceeds as planned, it will erode all of the good work coalition governments have done in the past and it will hinder progress in the future,” James Selfe, the chairman of the DA’s federal executive committee, said by email. “It is unfortunate that the EFF has taken this stance at the expense of the millions of South Africans who voted for change in the 2016 municipal elections.”