Outcome of weekend talks should clarify political state of affairs in Bitou

Report by: Yolandé Stander

POLITICAL uncertainty in Bitou should come to an end this week after the Active United Front (AUF) announced that it would have clarity over discussions around terminating the party’s coalition with the ANC - this after AUF mayor Peter Lobese made a call to end this alliance on April 4.
Lobese issued a statement saying that his party’s relationship with the ANC in Bitou had soured over the past seven months, making it “impossible to justify” the coalition.
His statement was released in solidarity with the rest of the country in protest against president Jacob Zuma, following among other issues his recent cabinet reshuffle that saw the country’s economy take a nosedive.
“I join the rest of South Africans at home and abroad who are troubled and pained by this ‘rogue’ president to make the point that our country cannot afford him, and nothing must be done to assist him to continue being in office even for one day.”
Lobese called on all parties in similar situations in various municipalities nationwide to pull out of these coalitions.
AUF spokesman Thembani Lobese said during a media briefing last Thursday that the party had thrown its weight behind the mayor and needed to make a decision on “whether the AUF/ANC marriage in Bitou” was working or not.
The mayor said his statement had created a lot of controversy, but that he had made it as the mayor of Bitou. “When I was inaugurated as mayor, I made it clear that I was representing the entire Bitou and the statement has to do with that responsibility.”
He said the coalition agreement that guided the relationship between the two parties had not been implemented and that the parties differed on key issues.
He added that a service-delivery plan had been drawn up as part of the agreement, but seven months down the line it was still in draft form and not signed.
The mayor claimed that the ANC had thwarted attempts to establish clean administration and commit resources to address the difficulties faced by Bitou residents, thus establishing themselves as “enemies of the people we are required to serve”.
He said he had hoped that the ANC’s national leadership would remedy the situation, but that the events around Zuma had “destroyed any hope” of a turnaround.
Lobese reiterated that when he had made the statement, he did so “as the mayor - a deployee of the AUF” and this was not enough to officially terminate the coalition.
He concluded that his party would engage with ANC leadership structures over the weekend about, among others, the exit clauses of the agreement.
Without the coalition Bitou has a hung council, both the DA and ANC having six seats, and the AUF one.
Garden Route Media