Natasha Marrian Political editor: Business Day
Gauteng premier David Makhura. Picture: FREDDY MAVUNDA
Gauteng premier David Makhura. Picture: FREDDY MAVUNDA

The DA failed to remove the ANC’s Ekurhuleni mayor Mzwandile Masina on Thursday, in what was dubbed a critical showdown in the run-up to the electoral battle for control of the Gauteng province in the 2019 national election.

The ANC held on the Ekurhuleni metro by a narrow margin in 2016 — it is the only metro in SA’s economic heartland the party continues to control.

In an audacious move, the DA launched a motion of no confidence in Masina, attempting to capitalise on divisions within the governing party over support for him, as well as disagreements between the parties in the ANC-led coalition governing the metro, which has a R38bn budget.

Both the ANC and the DA rolled out their members to protest for and against Masina outside the council on Thursday. Gauteng premier and ANC chair in Gauteng David Makhura was also present as he moved to defend the last remaining metro governed by his party in the province.

Conceding defeat, DA caucus leader in Ekurhuleni Phillip De Lange  initially said the failure of the motion showed that the ANC placed corruption over the people of Ekurhuleni. He said the DA has compiled a dossier of corruption and service-delivery failures against Masina, which it had presented to council, but ANC councilors opted to retain the mayor.

Makhura told the Business Day in an interview that the ANC was “100% together” in support of Masina and had no doubt over the support of the coalition partners in the metro.

“One of the important things we have learned is not to take people for granted and being in coalition here is something that has put a great deal of pressure on us to go back to every area in Ekurhuleni and make sure we hear them.

“We said to the mayor here we only run one metro, if there is anything we need to do, it is to showcase that we have learned and we are running things much better.” 

Makhura said the ANC leadership had placed Masina under immense pressure to deliver.

“We wanted to demonstrate that, after the setback of 2016, we must send a strong message that when the ANC is in charge, we can really make a decisive mark on improving the quality of life for our people, we need to show that.” 

The DA is under pressure in the metros it won in 2016, with severe challenges in the City of Cape Town and mayor and Gauteng premier candidate Solly Msimanga under fire in Tshwane, with indications that he may even be removed by the DA to allow him time to campaign for the 2019 polls.