Parties race to form coalitions to avoid govt’s intervention

Different political parties are engaged in marathon talks to form coalitions after a record 66 municipalities were hung including the Joburg, Tshwane and eThekwini metros.

The IEC Results Operations Centre in Pretoria. Picture: Abigail Javier/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - With less than two weeks to go before newly elected councillors are sworn into office, local government experts said the law was armed with alternatives should coalition talks delay the resumption of municipal council duties.

Different political parties are engaged in marathon talks to form coalitions after a record 66 municipalities were hung including the Joburg, Tshwane and eThekwini metros.

In South Africa, municipal councils are obliged to meet within 14 days after the declaration of results.

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However, as political parties and independent councillors enter unchartered terrain regarding the hung municipalities, this may prove difficult to achieve.

Director at the Dullah Omar Institute, Professor Jaap de Visser said: “In that meeting, they must elect the office bearers. They must start with electing the speaker and then the speaker will take the chair and preside over the election of other office bearers. But if your coalition negotiations are still ongoing, you will have a problem.”

But should this not happen, municipal councils face the threat of Section 139 interventions as they would be violating the law.

“The provincial government can either send you a directive if you don’t meet to say you must meet or as a last resort, step in and dissolve the council and intervene heavy handedly. We’ve seen that happen in KwaZulu-Natal, but that is the last resort.”

However, De Visser said if coalitions were still ongoing, councils could convene the meeting within the stipulated 14 days and adjourn it until the talks were concluded.