Political tensions are simmering in the troubled Metsimaholo Municipality. The protracted stalemate has derailed the first round of talks in a bid to form a multi-party coalition government. At the heart of the tussle is the mayoral position.

With no outright winner, major parties need each other to govern. But they don’t see eye-to-eye.

The African National Congress (ANC) has won 16 of the 46 council seats. Both the Democratic Alliance (DA) and the Ecomonic Freedom Fighters (EFF) have each won 12 seats.

Another coalition government is required to lead the crisis-ridden municipality.

At least 24 seats are required to constitute majority.

The SABC News has learned that there is battle over the mayoral chain.

Metsimaholo ANC mayoral candidate Lucas Fisher says they are ready to restore the collapsed municipality to its former glory.

“We have not dropped. We have not won. I think the indication from the voters is that, that is where they want us. It’s disappointing that we have not won outright but we are satisfied with our performance up to so far,” says Lucas Fisher.

It’s a sense of déjàvu for Metsimaholo. The previous coalition involving, among others, the DA, EFF and the MCA was dissolved due to council’s failure to approve the municipal budget. The shaky five-party coalition, led by the SACP, since 2017, has been fraught with tensions.

The embattled municipality was placed under administration in February 2020 after it failed to convene meetings and pass the budget.

“As the DA in Metsimaholo, we are willing to work with other political parties because we understand that our primary existence is to serve the people,” says Thulani Mbana, Metsimaholo DA Caucus leader.

Disagreements in the municipality led to critical posts not being filled. The horse trading among the contestants has not been smooth sailing.

EFF councillor, April Motaung says they are happy with the local government elections results.

“We have increased our percentage of votes, from 18% to 25%, from 8 sits in 2016, 2017 by elections to 12 sits. And from the 12 sits, we are having two wards, 8 and 23 … it’s an EFF settlement named after commander in chief,” says Motaung.

The Freedom Front Plus has won three seats.

The Metsimaholo Community Association, which was part of the outgoing coalition government, has retained its council seat.

Metsimaholo Community Association member, Lennox Mashia says services should not be compromised by internal squabbles.

“Though we are not entirely happy with the results, but we nonetheless have to soldier on in making sure that we get to engage with other parties as role players within the governing space of the municipality in making sure that we don’t have to compromise further the service delivery quality,” says Lennox Mashia.

All eyes will be in the hugely-industrialised Metsimaholo ahead of the first council sitting. Parties have three months to constitute a council, or risk another run of by-elections.

VIDEO: Tensions are rising in the embattled Metsimaholo Municipality