Your editorial of December 10 2019, “Battle for Gauteng reveals DA’s cracks”, was clearly intended to nail the DA — but for what, we do not yet know. The main charge seems to be that DA’s “own councillors and coalition partners handed [Johannesburg] back to the woefully incompetent and corrupt ANC.”

First, you must learn how to count.

The ANC candidate for mayor beat his DA rival by 36 votes. It would have made no difference to the outcome had the IFP (five seats), COPE (one seat), and three rogue DA councillors not sold out to the ANC. The ANC is the biggest party in the Joburg council, and the only reason the DA candidate won in 2016 was because the EFF supported him.

This outlier was not to be repeated in 2019. The EFF knew that by fielding their own candidate, or abstaining from the vote, power would automatically be handed back to the ANC. 

Floyd Shivambu and Ace Magashule were caught enjoying each other’s company in the council gallery, and maybe the outcome that ensued was exactly what the pair were plotting. Yet the EFF’s machinations, and how its tacit support for the ANC in Joburg belies its anti-corruption and anti-ANC rhetoric, somehow escapes your scrutiny and outrage. 

Second, while you might be able to blame the DA for failing to anticipate the treachery of its three rogue councillors, how exactly is the party responsible for its “coalition partners”? IFP and COPE councillors were induced with mayoral committee positions to break a national coalition agreement with the DA. These councillors, not the DA, must account for their behaviour. Try to see the wood for the trees. 

The EFF is no more than an outward faction of the ANC, so it will be happy to do deals with Magashule’s Luthuli House. And parties such as the IFP and COPE seem to hold no sway over their own municipal caucuses. The DA’s job is not to outbid the ANC — with ratepayers’ money — for the affection of parties who do not differ fundamentally from the ANC.

A DA-led coalition that replicates the errors and abuses of the ANC is simply not worth the damage to the party’s brand and values. The DA must make itself as distinct from the ANC as possible — even if it means momentarily losing power in Gauteng’s metros — and remind the swindled EFF, IFP and COPE voters of Johannesburg that come 2021,e only real choice is between the DA and the ANC. 

Cilliers Brink, Pretoria East

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