The political shenanigans involving lawsuits and the switching of coalition partners that have been taking place in a number of municipalities across the Western Cape are not a new phenomenon before a local government election, according to political analysts.
On Tuesday the Karoo Ontwikkeling Party (KOP) in Laingsburg Municipality ripped up its coalition deal with the DA to get into bed with the ANC.
The new set-up means that the DA Speaker and deputy mayor were ousted from office and replaced with ANC councillors, while the mayor’s position went to the KOP councillor after the council change of leadership.
While ANC regional executive committee chairperson Quinton Louw said the meeting where the changes were effected was above board, DA East Region chairperson Tertuis Simmers said: “Since none of the DA councillors were present at the proceedings, the meeting was illegal, which means that the ANC/KOP coalition is illegally governing Laingsburg.”
In Mossel Bay, the DA-run municipality and its municipal manager, Thys Giliomee, agreed to part ways on Tuesday following the suspension of an investigation into Giliomee’s alleged misconduct.
Mayor Harry Levendal said that the settlement was the logical and best solution in the circumstances, however ANC Mossel Bay constituency office head Cameron Dugmore insisted that the municipality clarify the terms of the decision to let Giliomee go.
Meanwhile the troubled Bitou Municipality has announced it is suing Local Government MEC Anton Bredell for refusing to suspend former mayor Peter Lobese, following adverse allegations and findings against him in a forensic report served on the council in February 2020.
Stellenbosch University political science lecturer Amanda Gouws said voters could expect to see more political shenanigans before the elections, “especially if we are going to see more independent candidates standing for election”. Gouws, however, said she feared that there were undemocratic practices at play in the province.
“Political leaders should stop this type of behaviour before it becomes embedded in the political culture, if that has not already happened.”
Independent political consultant Shingai Mutizwa-Mangiza said the musical chairs on the various councils could be a broader manifestation of internal wrangling in the two main parties in the Western Cape.
“Voters have to ask themselves what the implication of all these intrigues insofar as service delivery and accountability systems go. If we can divorce the political from the governance aspects then there is no problem; if not, then it is problematic.”