Picture: Jacques Naude/African News Agency (ANA) Archives
Picture: Jacques Naude/African News Agency (ANA) Archives

Not all councils can be governed through a coalition – political analysts

By Ntombi Nkosi Time of article published Nov 11, 2021

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Johannesburg – University of Johannesburg and political analyst Professor Steven Friedman says there is a substantial number of councils that cannot be governed by a coalition government unless there is a major shift in how things pan out.

Advocacy group, My Vote Counts, was in conversation with Friedman, one of its members Lethlogonolo Letshele and advocate Jennica Beukes of the Dullah Omar Institute on the coalitions and the future of South African politics.

Friedman, when asked about the low voter turnout and the ANC's dismal performance at this year's polls, said he was concerned about how these political developments were being perceived by the public.

“I will fight with every fibre in my body to prevent people legislating to tell political parties how they engage each other.

“Coalitions are not some exotic form of government invented somewhere, they are a necessity that occurs when parties don’t have a majority. I have never come across a party with a majority of votes which wanted a coalition.

“They go into coalitions because they have to go into coalition and you can't force them,” Friedman said.

He said looking at the trends in hung councils, no one can hold majority.

“There are a substantial number of councils that cannot be governed by a coalition government unless we see a major shift in the kind of public positions that parties have been taking.

“If you look at DA, ActionSA and FF plus, they don’t have 50 percent in Tshwane or Johannesburg, they have to patch together coalition with small parties,” Friedman said.

Letshele from My Vote Counts meanwhile spoke on the overview of the coalition, saying one of the trends was the decline in the ANC's numbers and that most of the vote went to smaller parties and independent candidates.

“Another trend we see is that the ANC fell below 50 percent in five out of eight metros. In 2016 we saw a decline at the City of Tshwane, City of Joburg and Nelson Mandela Bay but this year we see that at eThekwini and Ekurhuleni municipality. We see the IFP gaining some momentum in terms of the municipalities in KwaZulu-Natal,” Letshele said.

“The significance of these municipalities – especially in Johannesburg, Tshwane and Nelson Mandela Bay – based on the history of coalitions in 2016, we saw the power struggle and instability. I think it is important we understand the nature of the coalitions and how they are going to play out in the next five years,” she said.

Several parties have begun coalition talks and negotiations, with the DA have said they don't want a coalition with the EFF or the ANC.

ActionSA has also been adamant that it won't form a coalition with the ANC.

Beukes says the two largest political parties (ANC and DA) have suffered major electoral defeat in the elections, putting smaller parties on the map and paving the way for coalition governments at local government level.

When asked what the law says about the coalition at a municipal level, Beukes said the constitution and ordinary legislation did not make provision for a coalition government in local government so there was no guidance for political parties and what they ought to do.

“One of the recommendations that we have put forward is that the coalition negotiations must not only focus on who will get which office, be a mayor or speaker, (nor) how will the executive be e structured, it also needs to be about policy because the parties need to negotiate to ensure that each political party will be well represented in the coalition as reflected in the manifesto," he said.

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Political Bureau

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