Herman Mashaba was not "double-crossed"

Helen Zille says the DA has been upfront about its objectives in Joburg

I read in today's Sunday Times that Herman Mashaba believes he was "double-crossed" by our decision to field Dr Mpho Phalatse as our mayoral candidate in Johannesburg, rather than support him to head up a minority coalition government that will be dependent on the EFF to stay in power.

The meaning of "double-cross" is to deceive or betray a person with whom one is supposedly working.

We have not double-crossed Herman Mashaba. And even more importantly, we have not double-crossed the voters.

We have merely done what we said we would do throughout the election campaign. We kept our promises.

1) We contested Johannesburg vigorously. Our mayoral candidate was Dr Mpho Phalatse.

2) We said to voters that, if we lost, we would seek to form coalitions governments of opposition parties that shared the same core values to establish principled, stable majority coalitions that could stay the five-year course.

3) We said we would not repeat the disastrous failures of 2016 in which we sought to govern Tshwane and Johannesburg in a minority coalition that depended on the support of the opposition EFF (from outside the coalition govt) to stay in power.

Our experience of this arrangement was that the coalition became beholden to the EFF and betrayed the voters.

We are now sticking to those promises. Not a single point is new. Furthermore, in the past two weeks, we have never given any other indication or undertaking during the negotiations. We have stuck to our position consistently.

Herman Mashaba's plan to become Mayor of Johannesburg proposes that he be at the helm of a minority coalition that cannot govern without the EFF.

We have been through that movie before, in the difficult (often traumatic) years since 2016. We said we would not repeat it. We have never misled him or given a contrary indication. He has NOT been double-crossed. Nor has anyone else.

It should come as absolutely no surprise that we continue with our stated commitment. Mpho Phalatse is our mayoral candidate and the DA will vote for her.

Another complete fallacy that must be rebutted is Mr Bantu Holomisa's claim that I insisted that Herman Mashaba withdraw as the ASA mayor in return for DA support.

This is fanciful fiction.

The facts are as follows. During our multi-lateral negotiations on Monday 15th November, Herman Mashaba out of the blue volunteered that if he became a stumbling block, he would be ready to withdraw as the mayoral candidate.

As his candidacy was not the issue, I did not even respond to the suggestion and did not think of it again.

It just demonstrated to me that ASA and some of the other parties did not understand our principled objection against forming a minority coalition dependent on the EFF to govern. They thought it was about personalities. IT WAS NOT, AND NEVER SHOULD BE.

During the course of the week, Corne Mulder of the Freedom Front Plus contacted me and suggested he write to Herman Mashaba to ask him to state in writing that he was willing to withdraw.

I said it was neither here nor there, but Corne could call Herman's bluff if he wanted to.

Corne then followed up on his suggestion -- an unsurprisingly the ASA refused to replace their mayoral candidate. This was a minor diversion, and I had nothing to do with initiating it. The DA would never prescribe to another political party who to put forward as their mayoral candidate, just as we reject the idea that other parties should prescribe to us.

All this little diversion revealed, was that Herman's unsolicited offer to withdraw as the mayoral candidate had not been sincere. That was clear from the start, but it was entirely irrelevant to the principle-based issues involved.

It is clear that many fail to see what is really going on in the attempt to put up a fragile minority coalition to govern Johannesburg that relies on the EFF to stay in power.

The EFF does not want to be in the executives of local government. They want to control the decision-making processes of government from the the opposition benches.

The EFF isn't interested in the comparatively modest salaries of executive office.

They know that people in these positions may not interfere with administrative appointments, nor the awarding of tenders and contracts.

They can, however, control all these things if a minority coalition -- if those in executive office depend on them to stay in power. Then they can dictate who should fill the positions of Municipal Manager and other key administrative posts -- as this is often where the real power lies to dispense patronage and enrich connected networks.

This EFF strategy revealed itself in the unstable and tumultous years following the 2016 election.

They are repeating it again. They want a Mayor in Johannesburg who is beholden to them, and will do their bidding, so that the EFF puppet-master outside the minority coalition, can control the administration, and they key decisions about positions, tenders and contracts.

This is what it is about.

We have said "No" to this strategy since it first became clear.

We told the voters that we were serious about not setting up unprincipled, unstable, minority coalitions that depended on the EFF to stay in power.

We are now sticking to our commitment. I know that the caricature of politicians is that we supposedly make empty promises.

The DA doesn't. There is no double-speak from us.

And therefore we have not double-crossed Herman Mashaba nor anyone else.

Above all, we have kept faith with the voters.

This article first appeared on Helen Zille’s Facebook page.