IN anticipation of the outcome of next year’s general elections with neither the ANC nor any party getting an outright majority vote, parties have to discuss how the country could be run through a stable coalition.
The fear that persists is that instabilities that are happening in various municipalities that are run through coalitions could repeat themselves in multi-party-run provincial and national governments.
There are currently 81 hung councils across the country as a result no political party got majority votes in the 2016 and 2021 local government elections, and was anticipated that this might soon escalate to national and provincial governments.
As a result, deputy president Paul Mashatile would chair a two day National Dialogue on Coalition Governments next month at the University of Western Cape on Friday and Saturday next week.
Mashatile’s spokesperson Vukani Mde said the dialogue was aimed at bringing the political parties together so that they could work out how to govern together without squabbling among themselves to the detriment of the service delivery.
“Certainly if people think that there is a possibility of a hung Parliament next year, which might necessitate a national coalition if you are having a dialogue about coalition government, obviously they might have to raise discussion about how that should be handled without the kind of instability we have seen in local at national government,” said Mde.
There is optimism that a stable coalition administration can be achieved as this has worked in Kenya, Germany, Belgium, Austria, Malaysia, Japan, Netherlands, and Denmark.
“The specific socio-political culture and institutional conditions in these countries make it possible for coalitions to guarantee continuity of socio-economic development and service delivery, regardless of the dynamics in politics,” read a document compiled in preparation for the dialogue.
However, the coalitions in some states in African, eastern Europe, Asia and Latin America that are undergoing democratic transitions and structural transformation have led to “a disastrous national development”.
“In these countries, Coalition Governments have been synonymous with instability and fragmentation that has not been good for national reconstruction, socio-economic development and structural transformation,” read the document.
The dialogue would result in the development of a framework for the coalition governments ahead of next year’s general elections, but it would also focus “on dealing with the immediate challenges in Local Government.”
“This framework must assist in ensuring that we uphold democracy and its emphasis on the majority rule,” the document said.
UDM leader Bantu Holomisa was looking forward to the dialogue. In a statement, political parties have requested to be given enough opportunities to express themselves about their experiences in the coalition councils.
“The panellists and any other experts should be listening to the political parties on challenges they experience in coalition arrangements. Another request was for political parties who are not represented in Parliament and legislatures to be represented at the National Dialogue so that they are not disadvantaged in the talks.
“Also it is important that the Independent Electoral Commission be present at the Dialogue,” he said.