Business organisations say coalition negotiators have their work cut out

The final results of the 2024 national and provincial elections beamed by the IEC at the National Results Operations Centre in Midrand on Sunday night. Picture: GCIS

The final results of the 2024 national and provincial elections beamed by the IEC at the National Results Operations Centre in Midrand on Sunday night. Picture: GCIS

Published Jun 4, 2024


Business and civic organisations have called on political parties’ coalition negotiators to be mindful of addressing looming challenges, including policy uncertainty, the need to build business confidence, and efficient administration as the economy is ushered into uncharted territory.

This comes as the ruling ANC embarks on negotiations with opposition parties to form a coalition government after losing its parliamentary majority for the first time since democracy, winning 40.18% of the national vote, with the DA coming second at 21.81% and the newly formed MK Party scoring 14.58%.

Business organisations yesterday said that the election results were important as the country had endured significant hardships over the past 15 years due to misgovernance during the state capture years, the Covid-19 pandemic, self-inflicted unrest in July 2021, and several episodes of natural disasters.

Organisations including Business Leadership South Africa (BLSA) and the South African Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Sacci), among others, listed as priority the weak economic growth, record-high unemployment, widening income inequality and crumbling infrastructure.

They said the deals struck during coalition negotiations needed to underpin policy continuity, enable the government to stick to the fiscal prudence regained over the recent past as well as maintain the reform momentum needed to get the economy growing.

BLSA’s CEO Busi Mavuso said the next government must continue the hard work of rebuilding institutions, particularly the criminal justice system.

“As a country, we must continue to restore our international standing, escape the Financial Action Task Force grey list and improve the national balance sheet so we can one day regain an investment grade credit rating,” Mavuso said.

“These objectives must be clear for the next government if it is going to deliver for South Africans.”

Business Unity South Africa (Busa) said that more than 16 million South Africans have expressed their aspirations and sent a clear message that they do not trust any single political party to govern alone.

Busa CEO Cas Coovadia said that as political parties engage in talks to form coalition governments, business was emphasising the importance of prioritising the interests of the entire country over their own parties and personal interests.

“Our country is once again at a crossroads. One path leads to investment, inclusive growth, job creation and the resolution of our socio-economic crises,” Coovadia said.

“The other path will deepen our crises and hamper the much-needed recovery, with the most vulnerable bearing the burden. We urge the parties that the majority of our people voted for to choose the first road.”

Sacci said political parties needed to prioritise putting together a coalition that will take South Africa forward, given the lack of an outright majority party.

“Foremost should be the alleviation of high levels of unemployment, building a meritocracy and sustainable and inclusive economic growth, and ridding the state and the private sector of corruption,” it said.

“Political stability and policy certainty are the fundamental hallmarks that will drive business and investor sentiment..”

Meanwhile, Mike Gcabo, deputy chairperson of the Black Agricultural Commodities Federation (BACF), said there was a need to strengthen the capacity of the civil service as the actual administrative and operational functions were carried out at that level.

Gcabo also said one positive from the new administrative landscape was the better checks and balances from taking away unfettered power from a single political party.

“On the downside this might make decision-making more tedious and cumbersome, especially between two parties that are polarised,” Gcabo said.

“For business, the whole question of policy certainty or lack therefore is of fundamental importance. We do not know yet what direction these coalitions will take.”

Cosatu said it would mobilise to ensure that the incoming government’s social and economic mandate was fulfilled.

“These principles are sacrosanct and cannot be compromised,” said Cosatu spokesperson Matthew Parks.