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No consensus at political parties’ first national dialogue on coalitions

DA chief whip Siviwe Gwarube. Picture: Timothy Bernard/African News Agency (ANA)

DA chief whip Siviwe Gwarube. Picture: Timothy Bernard/African News Agency (ANA)

Published Aug 7, 2023


The DA has accused the ANC of hijacking the two-day national coalition dialogue held in Cape Town at the weekend.

The party’s chief whip Siviwe Gwarube said her party began an inclusive parliamentary process of drafting legislation to stabilise coalition governments in October last year.

Gwarube said the ANC could not be bothered to participate at the time, and claimed it became apparent during the national dialogue that the ANC had been desperately trying to hijack the process.

“They have sought to undermine the law-making process already under way in Parliament and made a mockery of the intention of the dialogue where proposals from various parties were meant to be sought,” she said.

The DA has tabled some bills in Parliament aimed at stabilising coalition government and they are yet to be processed.

“If the ANC government had identified key proposals in our bills, which they want to support, they should support the pieces of legislation when they come to Parliament. Developing a parallel legislation, which borrows extensively from the draft dills brought by the DA, is operating in bad faith,” Gwarube said.

“These laws are not designed to prop up a failing ANC. They are designed to protect the citizens of South Africa,” she said in apparent response to claims by other parties that the DA and ANC have entered into a grand coalition agreement.

The ANC was not immediately available to comment.

The discussions at the national dialogue saw the ANC and the DA agreeing for the need to set up thresholds for parties to enter into coalitions and number of motions of no confidence to be tabled. This attracted mixed reaction especially from smaller opposition parties arguing that the process sought to throttle them.

The ATM staged a walkout, the EFF boycotted the dialogue and the PAC dubbed the dialogue as trying to save the “dying” ANC.

Deputy President Paul Mashatile said the Presidency would commission the drafting of the document that would allow parties to make inputs.

“We agreed that the issue of coalition governments does need the input of other stakeholders,” Mashatile said.

He said the dialogue was successful and that those who participated felt that there was a need for more engagements.

“We have realised that in these two days there may be two or three issues where there were disagreements. But most of the issues have a lot of consensus and parties approached this in that spirit,” Mashatile said.

Mashatile was quick to note that some parties have “legitimate fears” around the threshold to join a coalition.

“We need to look at that issue,” he said, adding that there was a threshold to get a seat in Parliament that originated from the constitution.

GOOD party secretary general Brett Herron said they agreed with the document that the outcomes of the dialogue should be presented to party structures and members.

Herron also said they agreed that they should explore tools to ensure that motions of no confidence did not lead to instability across different spheres of government guided by constitutional framework.

“We recognise that this dialogue is only the beginning and further dialogue will continue after consultation and reporting with and to party structures,” Herron added.

Political analyst Professor Erwin Schwella said it was necessary for parties to make compromises to create cohesion.

“One of compromises will have to be less emphasis on the pervasive finding of positions for political parties than on setting policy and service delivery,” he said, adding that if parties enter into coalitions, they should agree to serve the people.

“They have to come to a consensus,” Schwella said.

He said it would be better that from the conversation emerged some form of independent mediation not dominated by one or two parties.

Cape Times