Will it be up to EFF to save Mashaba? Why ANC's no confidence motion could fail
While the ANC drums up support and attempts to rally City of Johannesburg residents around the idea that Herman Mashaba is not good enough to continue as mayor, many believe it's a futile exercise and won't bear the desired fruits.
The ANC in South Africa's economic hub has tabled a motion of no confidence against Mashaba, which is expected to be heard on Thursday.
The motion will also apply to council speaker Vasco Da Gama and the chief whip of the DA's caucus, Kevin Wax.
The ANC is not only vigorously debating and horse trading behind the scenes but the ruling party also hopeful the EFF's position on its soured relationship with the DA will work in its favour.
Earlier this year, red berets leader Julius Malema said the party would no longer vote with the DA after Mmusi Maimane's party refused the EFF's proposed power-sharing deal and the City of Tshwane mayorship position.
Support for Mashaba
The EFF has, however, expressed its support for Mashaba, saying even if the DA was no longer in charge of the City it would be happy if the incumbent remained as mayor.
The ANC says it's bringing the motion, which takes place on the third anniversary of Mashaba's election as mayor, because of what it claims to be the City's poor financial state.
The ANC lost control of Joburg in the 2016 local government elections.
Some in the now opposition party believe they have struck enough deals to cause a serious upset, even without the EFF's 30 votes but the DA has also expressed confidence - not only in Mashaba but also in its relationship with parties in a formal coalition with it.
Over the weekend, Maimane said the chiefs of the smaller parties had all agreed with his party to stand behind Mashaba despite speculation that some members of the coalition and within the DA might turn on the party.
"The ANC is not in the right position to be pushing for a motion of no confidence," says News24 columnist and political analysts Mpumelelo Mkhabela.
He argues that the motion is not likely to succeed and will only serve to make Mashaba an even more powerful figure in the Johannesburg region.
Mkhabela says similar to developments on the national political stage, the ANC has been found on its back foot, with a smaller party like the EFF informing its tactics.
Mkhabela says the ANC, which needs 136 votes to win the motion, is probably not trying to have Mashaba removed but to weaken him by highlighting the failures of his leadership.
"They want to poke holes in his failures, but that process might have unintended consequences and then Mashaba will be able to do the same to them."
He compares Mashaba to President Cyril Ramaphosa who was more popular than his own political party in the lead up to the 2019 general elections.
Both Mkhabela and author and political commentator Dr Ralph Mathekga agree that those expecting the EFF to ditch Mashaba are ill-informed.
Mkhabela, citing Malema's own words regarding the growing relationship between his party and Mashaba, says the EFF will also be difficult to divide, which the ANC will probably have to consider when calculating its chances of a win.
"The EFF is usually able to unite under such situations and take directive from national leadership," remarks Mkhabela.
Mathekga also believes the ANC might not get its way on Thursday. He says the EFF is continuing to enjoy a "free ride" courtesy of its proximity to the mayor and using that network to its advantage.
"I will be very surprised if the EFF didn't support Mashaba, he is too powerful and too close to the purse," he says.
Mathekga, while sure of which way the red berets will go when asked to vote on Mashaba, lacked certainty on whether this would also apply to Wax and Da Gama, saying the party would need to decide if it was worth its while to also save the other two DA leaders.