Economic Freedom Fighters leader Julius Malema during a press briefing at the party's office in Braamfontein on 23 January 2017.
JOHANNESBURG – Economic Freedom Fighters leader Julius Malema’s ultimatum to the Democratic Alliance was clear, get rid of Helen Zille as Western Cape Premier, or else.
On Tuesday, Zille and the DA announced that they had reached a compromise which will see her step down from the party's decision-making structures, but she will stay on as premier.
She has also been told to stick to matters of the Western Cape government when commenting in public.
The EFF appears to have pulled back from its hard-line demand for Zille's removal as premier.
Just last week, the party demanded that the DA remove Zille or face losing control of municipalities where they govern with the red berets' voting support.
"They must be warned and we do so now. You will remain with Western Cape, with Johannesburg, Tshwane and PE gone. Because we're not going to associate with a party that protects colonialism and apartheid,” Malema said.
“Be warned. We're not going to vote with a party that loves individuals more than South Africans."
However the EFF statement following Zille's apology and removal from party positions, is mum on withdrawing this support in cities like Johannesburg, Tshwane and Nelson Mandela Bay and the DA seems to have called the EFF's bluff.
"I don't prescribe to Mr Malema how he must deal with his party,” said DA Federal Executive chairperson James Selfe.
“He needs to understand that we deal with things in a different way and if he wishes to collapse the governments in Tshwane and Johannesburg and give the municipalities over to the ANC, then I'm afraid he must bear the responsibility for that."
DA leader Mmusi Maimane had a jab of his own to throw, at the king-maker of municipal politics.
"I think without doubt, many political leaders have said things that are outrageous,” Maimane said.
“I think in fact even the leader of the EFF has said things that I think fall foul of the constitution of the republic."
Political analyst Dumisani Hlophe says the current EFF strategy could be driven by a focus on dislodging the ANC in 2019 as opposed to inflicting short term punishment on the DA.