Max du Preez

DA/EFF coalitions could have 'great value'

2016-08-16 09:39

Max du Preez

Coalitions between the DA and the EFF in hung councils could potentially lead to sticky situations, wars of words and administrative nightmares, but this co-operation could also have a very positive impact on our national politics.

On the surface it looks like these two parties are light years apart in style and policy and it makes people wonder how they could possible govern together.

But it is exactly because of this that DA/EFF coalitions could have great value.

Most voters of the minority groups vote for the DA. The EFF is close to exclusively black African.

The DA supports the free market system, has good relationships with business and its policies are aimed at redistribution through economic growth.

The EFF calls itself Marxist, has orthodox socialist policies and scares the daylights out of most capitalists.

Listening to the two parties’ leaders, one gets the impression that all they have in common is a dislike of the ANC and Jacob Zuma. But this is not really true.

They can learn from each other

There are indeed elements in the DA that only joined or voted for the party because they think it is the best way of fighting the ANC, and there are wild radicals in the EFF who make no secret that they hate white people.

But there are strong leaders and a solid core of supporters in both parties that are really committed to improving the services rendered to citizens, to cutting corruption and wastage and to restoring human dignity to the poor. They just don’t agree how it should be done.

If they govern in a coalition, the two parties can learn from each other, become more pragmatic and take better notice of each other’s constituencies’ dreams and fears.

The DA will hopefully become more sensitive to the plight of the poorest in the black townships and to the frustrations and anger of black youth.

The EFF will hopefully start realising that not all white citizens are opposed to genuine transformation or are hostile to the black majority.

Hopefully the EFF will develop a greater understanding of the economic realities and the dangers of large-scale nationalisation and reckless land grabs.

The EFF will have a better understanding of and be more in touch with the unemployed and the working class in the areas where these coalitions govern.

The DA brings its greater experience of good administration, fiscal discipline and effective management to the table – the EFF has never governed anywhere.

A welcome change

The national and regional leadership of the two parties will have to develop a closer relationship if the local coalitions are to work and survive.

This could take the edge off the sharp rhetoric and hostility we’ve sometimes seen between the two parties. This would be a welcome change that could only bode well for the national political climate.

It is fortuitous that Mmusi Maimane is the new leader of the DA. This kind of pragmatic toenadering between the two parties would probably not have been possible if Helen Zille were still the leader.

Land reform is not a local jurisdiction, but it is a central pillar of the EFF’s credo. It would be a good thing if it could push the DA into bold decisions around land redistribution in and around cities and towns. This is as big a problem as the reform of agricultural land ownership.

The DA/EFF coalitions could show the ANC that good management, less corruption and hard work can make a much bigger difference to ordinary people’s lives than the ANC’s recipe of cadre deployment, enrichment, empire building and hollow liberation rhetoric.

The DA has proved in Cape Town and elsewhere that a party can grow its support if it governs well.

The mother of all general elections in South Africa is only three years away. The DA and the EFF can increase their popularity substantially if their coalitions are successful and govern well.

I really hope the DA/EFF coalitions will become a reality in the coming days.

It’s time to break the mould, to reboot our thinking and to imagine a new, New South Africa.

- Follow Max on Twitter.

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