Editorial | Govern for the residents

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A police officer clears the road in Embalenhle township outside Pietermaritzburg after a service delivery protest by residents. Photo: Tebogo Letsie
A police officer clears the road in Embalenhle township outside Pietermaritzburg after a service delivery protest by residents. Photo: Tebogo Letsie

EDITORIAL


In 2016, South Africa first experienced coalition governments after opposition parties banded together to remove the ANC from power in the Johannesburg, Tshwane and Nelson Mandela Bay metro councils.

It was initially a great step, showing the country that power was no longer concentrated in the hands of one political party. However, it later turned sour, when political bickering, repeated motions of no confidence and even violence became synonymous with these metros.

None of the coalition governments completed their term with the same leaders who had been elected, as various forms of interruptions ensured that the leaders were swapped midway.

READ: Mondli Makhanya | Ramaphosa: South Africa’s last ANC president?

What stood out then was that the voters who had elected the political parties were ignored, while the egos of the party leaders dominated.

As we enter a new round of coalitions that were formed this week in local municipalities, there are well-founded fears that the unfortunate episodes might be repeated in a fresh cycle. But it might be even worse this time around, as some of the coalitions were not formally negotiated.

The supposed negotiations over the coalitions were self-centred displays of immaturity by the parties’ leaders, who seemed less concerned about the instability that might be unleashed on the communities as a result.

The DA finds itself running three powerful Gauteng metros that it neither deserved on the basis of the election results, nor expected to take charge of after the EFF manoeuvred to ensure that it was given power.

READ: Setumo Stone | The EFF masterstroke

The danger with this arrangement is that the DA will still need to cooperate with these unwanted allies for it to pass legislation such as the budgets in the councils. There is a danger that these other parties might use their leverage to block the passing of these budgets, or make unreasonable demands in exchange for their cooperation.

In the past, the ANC has not proven gracious in defeat and might attempt to destabilise the new administrations. We hope that, under President Cyril Ramaphosa’s leadership, the ANC will show maturity as it moves to opposition benches.

Above all, we hope the parties remember that the power they exercise is on behalf of the people who expect the provision of water and electricity, waste removal, proper infrastructure, functioning local economies and accountable municipalities.


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