SACP coalition government in Metsimaholo on the ropes again

Barely eight months in office, the fragile coalition at Metsimaholo Local Municipality in the Free State is once again on the ropes.

The junior coalition partners want to oust SACP Mayor Lindiwe Tshongwe.

The Metsimaholo Community Association (MCA), the Forum for Service Delivery (FSD) and the African Independent Congress (AIC) have filed a motion of no confidence against Tshongwe, accusing her of having "no control" over her mayoral committee.

The SACP is leading the municipality, in coalition with the ANC, MCA, FSD and AIC.

The municipality was dissolved last July, when the council failed to pass the budget following disagreements in the coalition. It was forced to hold by-elections in December. At the time, the MCA had the mayor position, in coalition with the Democratic Alliance and supported by the EFF.

However, during the December elections there was again no outright winner, meaning another coalition government had to be formed to run the municipality.

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The MCA, FSD and AIC are accusing the mayor of "inconsistency on the implementation of the council resolutions" and claim there is "no political direction on the strategic objectives of the municipality".

The complaints are laid out in a motion submitted to the municipality on Tuesday.

The SACP said it was surprised that their partners had chosen to submit a motion of no confidence against Tshongwe, instead of raising their concerns in the multi-party structure set up to resolve any disputes.

Free State SACP spokesperson Phillip Kganyago said they were not aware of any disagreements within the coalition.

He, however, said that they were trying to meet with coalition partners to iron out differences.

"We need to save the coalition, but the party would not continue with that line if it means compromising the principles of running local government. We won't agree to such demands," Kganyago said.

'We have burnt our fingers before'

He said Tshongwe had run the municipality based on decisions taken in council. Kganyago admitted that the latest move threatens the survival of the coalition.

The party got three seats in its first electoral contest, independent from its alliance partner the ANC which got 16 seats. The municipality was traditionally under the ANC.

The DA's provincial chair Patricia Komape said the parties had contacted them in an attempt to form a coalition, however they turned down their request.

She said they would only accept a coalition if they were given the mayor, speaker and the mayoral council.

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"We have burnt our fingers before trying to accommodate MCA, unfortunately with the small parties it is about power, it is the politics of the stomach," Komape said.

She said the power now rests with the Metsimaholo residents.

"This type of coalition is unstable, it affects the administration, nothing is happening. As much as I feel for the people of Metsimaholo, but in a democracy you deserve the government you voted for."

She said the DA was now focusing on the 2019 national and provincial elections.