A pause for a little horse trading and greedy decisions

19 May 2019 - 00:03

So, this Saturday Cyril Ramaphosa will be inaugurated at Loftus Versfeld. It's cheaper than the Union Buildings and just down the road. Once that's done what normally happens quite quickly is that he will name a new cabinet. He's promised to cut the one he inherited from Jacob Zuma down to 25 from 35. A US president has 15 "ministers". Just saying.
Still, that's all good, if he does it. Obviously, the public wants to see him keep his promise not to bring corruption-tainted people back into government. For the moment people like Bathabile Dlamini and Nomvula Mokonyane are going back to parliament, having been put on the ANC's list.
But wait a bit. Both Bathabile and Nomvula have a call to make. Chances are they won't be in Ramaphosa's new cabinet. And the moment they're not they become just ordinary MPs. So do they pull themselves off the list now, and retire as ministers on a ministerial pension, or as mere MPs? These are two really greedy ladies. I think there may be more to come.
Who knows? After the elections there's this sort of interregnum where nothing but speculation happens. It's quite fun. I wrote a column for Business Day the other day about a friend telling me he'd been asked by the EFF to ask the DA if they'd be interested in an "arrangement" in Gauteng if the ANC lost it (which they didn't).
The DA was very excited by the idea, which is weird when you drive past their street posters saying "Stop the ANC & EFF".
The DA are serial EFF enablers and the EFF knows it. On Thursday, EFF leader Julius Malema held a press conference, one of those where he gets to ramble unstoppably across every known political terrain.
The interesting bit was for the DA. Seeing as they were interested in sharing Gauteng with the EFF, and already share power in Johannesburg and Pretoria, though without formal coalitions, Julius had a great idea for the DA - how about, you know, real power sharing? We will guarantee, he seemed to say, that the DA runs Johannesburg (these guys really, but really, like, "DA" mayor Herman Mashaba) if you give us Pretoria?
The good people of Tshwane will be very excited by this proposition. To give it to you straight, in the EFF twitter feed of the press conference, Julius said: "Let EFF leaders in Tshwane, lead the municipality in Tshwane. We are not passing any motion of no confidence. This is power sharing; in Johannesburg and in Tshwane."Cool, huh? But Johannesburg is at least safe, according to the commander-in-chief: "We support Mashaba and we think he must remain. There is no hostility, there is no motion of no confidence, there are no fights, there are talks on how we are going to share power."Really? There are talks? Does the wider DA family know this news? Has Mmusi Maimane had anything to say? Or James Selfe? Or any of the other DA honchos?They'd better talk to their constituency, though, because the EFF has them over a barrel. If the revolutionaries withdraw their support for the DA in Johannesburg or Pretoria, the DA mayors would fall, as Athol Trollip did in PE last year.
But the DA has some muscle. Sort of. If Herman Mashaba stays true to DA discipline and the EFF are at the same time saying they want him to stay, and the DA won't "share power" as per Malema's suggestion (that is, giving the EFF Tshwane) then the problem becomes the EFF's, not the DA's.The big question would be Mashaba. Many of his own DA caucus insist he is closer to the EFF than he is to them. He has allowed the EFF to influence contracts and appointments and, against all logic, has been insourcing labour rather than outsourcing it, which you would expect an entrepreneurial party and mayor to do.Faced with a binary choice - obey DA diktat and possibly lose his job or join the EFF and keep it - what would he do? I honestly don't know but the mere fact that the question arises means there's a potential problem for the DA.Of course, the DA is so loose with its principles that it might well buy the Malema proposition. They were quite prepared to horse trade again over Gauteng on Friday May 10, when it seemed the ANC might lose it.Let's wait and see. Ramaphosa's cabinet will be telling, obviously. But how the DA makes decisions under pressure will be potentially even more instructive for the country.

This article is reserved for Sunday Times subscribers.

A subscription gives you full digital access to all Sunday Times content.

Already subscribed? Simply sign in below.

Registered on the BusinessLIVE, Business Day, Financial Mail or Rand Daily Mail websites? Sign in with the same details.

Questions or problems? Email helpdesk@timeslive.co.za or call 0860 52 52 00.