South Africa’s two biggest opposition parties have locked horns over who should be the mayor of the nation’s capital, placing at risk an informal accord that saw them wrest control of the major cities away from the ruling African National Congress.
The mayor of South Africa’s Tshwane municipality, which includes the capital, Pretoria, has come from the ranks of the Democratic Alliance since the ANC lost its outright majority there in municipal elections in 2016. Now the Economic Freedom Fighters, which voted for the main opposition’s candidate, wants the post itself in exchange for continuing to support the DA mayor in Johannesburg, the economic hub — a demand the DA doesn’t appear prepared to meet.
“We have no formal agreement with the EFF,” Tshwane Mayor Stevens Mokgalapa, said in an interview in Pretoria on Tuesday. “So we agree to disagree, it is a case-by-case type of agreement.”
While the EFF has yet to indicate whether it will enlist the support of the ANC to topple Mokgalapa, it showed its willingness to work with the ruling party when they teamed up to vote out the DA mayor in the southern Nelson Mandela Bay municipality in August. Mokgalapa declined to say whether the EFF will be offered key posts in Tshwane in exchange for its continued support.
The mayor said his administration is facing a “serious challenge” getting Tshwane residents to pay for the water and electricity they use, with high levels of poverty and unemployment making it difficult for them to afford services.
“We are looking at exploring means and ways to confront the non-payment culture,” he said. “We have to create jobs so they can afford to pay. We are looking at incentives like early-bird payment, where people can get a little bit of discount. It is a work-in-progress.”
The city has acted decisively to tackle corruption, cancelling irregular contracts and establishing a new panel to probe financial misconduct by senior managers, according to Mokgalapa. The next step will be to hold those responsible for misappropriating funds to account and to recoup the money in collaboration with the police and the National Prosecuting Authority, he said.
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