Coalition conundrum: what now?

By admin
17 August 2016

Our politics is due for a sudden change today when the DA and EFF announce their positions on coalition formation in the metro councils of Tshwane, Johannesburg, Ekhuruleni and Nelson Mandela Bay.

Our politics is due for a big shake-up today when the DA and EFF announce their positions on coalition formation in the metro councils of Tshwane, Johannesburg, Ekhuruleni and Nelson Mandela Bay. Julius Malema is due to address a news conference at noon in Johannesburg, and Mmusi Maimane will at  2.30 pm. Various reports today – in the newspaper Business Day and on the website Daily Maverick, among others – say the EFF has decided not to form any coalitions.

The EFF’s reasons allegedly include that they don’t have a mandate to rule and don’t “want to slip in by the back door”.

This is a big blow for the DA, and the consequences far-reaching for the good management of at least three metros:

  • Nelson Mandela Bay should be safe. The DA will probably be able to put together a coalition of minority parties and gain a majority that will enable it to govern with relative authority.
  • The DA is the majority party in Pretoria and the ANC is the majority party in Johannesburg. But neither of them has an absolute majority in the council that will enable them to appoint mayoral committee and a mayor.
  • The ANC will be able to govern Ekhuruleni with the help of a few opposition party members.

So what now?

  • In both Pretoria and Johannesburg minority governments will be formed. This means that the party with the most votes will succeed in appointing a mayoral committee and mayor.
  •  In such a case the DA will be in power in Pretoria and the ANC in Johannesburg.
  •  Because no party has a majority (50% +1 vote) there will be quibbling over every little thing, from the approval of the budget to the voting on new sports fields in townships.
  • If the quarrelling gets so bad that the metros can’t function, the Constitution makes provision for the councils to be disbanded and for control to be taken over by the national government until new special elections can be called.

But why doesn’t the EFF want to go into a coalition?

  • The EFF is ideologically far removed from the DA. The parties are light years away from each other on issues such as land reform and the nationalisation of banks.
  • Although these questions weren’t an issue in the municipal elections, the EFF wants the DA to make concessions on these at national level before it’s prepared to help the DA on the municipal level.
  • These demands are seemingly unacceptable to the DA.
  • Since its founding the EFF has been very focused, even if it hasn’t seemed so. Land reform and nationalisation is its central ideology and it refuses to find middle ground on these issues.

We must watch exactly what happens today, but it’s a pity that it looks as if coalitions won’t work. This means turbulence and quarrelling in the country’s biggest and most important cities.

And that’s not good for anyone.

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