PA extortion collapses Joburg coalition talks

Issued by Cilliers Brink MP – DA National Spokesperson
26 Jan 2023 in News

In a repeat of the fate that befell Johannesburg last September, the Patriotic Alliance (PA) appears set to hand control of the city back to the African National Congress (ANC). This follows after the PA last night refused to support the current multiparty coalition government unless it got access to the city’s finances through control over the two most lucrative portfolios on the mayoral committee: economic and infrastructure development.

From the start of the current round of negotiations to stave-off a motion of no confidence in Mayor Mpho Phalatse, the Democratic Alliance (DA) has made it clear that we will not hand over the hard-earned taxes paid by the people of Joburg to a party that has patronage extraction as is its goal. Our concern over this possibility only intensified as negotiations progressed, with Gayton McKenzie repeatedly making it clear that his party has no interest in principled governance and exists solely to leverage and abuse any power it obtains to extract corrupt rents. As a result, the current round of negotiations were characterised by the PA’s constant extortionist tactics, apparently designed to play the coalition off against the ANC to get a better deal for itself.

Despite the DA’s concerns over working with a party that already betrayed the multiparty government last September in a failed attempt to let the ANC back into power, we nonetheless undertook weeks of negotiations to explore whether a solution could be found that met the following three conditions:

(1) Protect the multiparty government against a motion of no confidence;

(2) Prevent the PA from obtaining any control over finances and tender processes in Johannesburg; and

(3) Not amount to “rewarding” the PA for its earlier betrayal.

This culminated in an offer that would have placed the PA in substantially the same position it occupied in the coalition before it sold out to the ANC.

But the PA rejected the reasonable compromises that the DA was willing to make. Talks finally collapsed after it became clear that the PA’s only interest all along was to either obtain control over the coffers in order to rob Joburg blind, or to leverage its failure to obtain such control to get a better deal from the ANC.

It is also important to note that, as was the case last September, ActionSA (ASA) is once again complicit in the PA’s attempted extortion of the coalition. While other partners joined the DA in negotiating in good faith, ASA chose to dishonestly attack the DA in public before the negotiations even concluded. This exposes that, like the PA, ASA also abused the negotiating process with an ulterior motive: to score cheap political points against the DA.

It will be disappointing to residents of Johannesburg that ASA was not only willing to hand over control of Joburg’s coffers to the PA, but that it sided with the PA rather than the DA when it became clear that McKenzie’s party was using the negotiations to extort the coalition.

The DA painstakingly built this multiparty government to offer an alternative to ANC rule marked by zero-tolerance for corruption and dishonesty. We did not build it only to be extorted by the PA, aided by ASA, to surrender power over tenders and contracts to people who are every bit as corrupt and dishonest as the ANC.

The DA condemns the PA’s greed and dishonesty in the harshest possible terms for putting the future of the multiparty coalition at risk. We will vote against the motion of no confidence in the mayor today, and will hold accountable any party that chooses to join the ANC at the feeding trough.