Calls for change in SA coalition politics to strengthen democracy

DA Federal Leader John Steenhuisen. Photo: SUPPLIED

DA Federal Leader John Steenhuisen. Photo: SUPPLIED

Published Oct 16, 2022


DA leader John Steenhuisen and party chief whip Siviwe Gwarube have presented the party's five-point plan aimed at stabilising South Africa’s coalition politics.

The party said amendments to three private member’s bill's would bring much-needed stability to coalition politics at national, provincial and local levels.

Gwarube said part of the DA's legislative agenda in the build-up to 2024 elections was to prepare Parliament for the possibility that for the first time in 70 years, the country would cease to be governed by one dominant political party.

The call for change in coalition politics comes just as the party suffered a major blow in the Johannesburg City Council after former mayor Mpho Phalatse was voted out of the city council through a motion of no confidence sponsored by the ANC and other opposition parties. There is a possibility that the party could suffer the same fate in Tshwane and Ekurhuleni following recent calls by opposition political parties.

"This legislation is not a fix to the DA problems. We need to prepare for coalition politics. South Africa's elective legislature framework needs to catch up with the state of our democracy and current South African reality with coalitions. It is a fix for African problems with coalition governments after 2024. We should welcome the stability promoted by the legislative changes, "Gwarube said.

Steenhuisen added that the ANC was taking South Africa on a downward spiral due to high levels of crime, unemployment and corruption which have increased in the past few years.

"The situation is very bad and getting worse, with poverty, crime, debt, corruption and unemployment running out of control. We cannot afford to replace the failing ANC government, whether at national, provincial or local level, with unstable and cumbersome coalitions," he said.

Steenhuisen added that it was this instability brought by the current state of coalitions that had contributed to the lack of service delivery and non-performance in some of the major metropolitan councils, including Tshwane, Johannesburg and Ekurhuleni.

"In these metros residents face a constant risk of disrupted service delivery. If the current state of metro coalitions is replicated at national, provincial and local levels post-2024, it will lead to permanent instability, with South Africa even becoming ungovernable," Steenhuisen said.

Some of the suggestions contained in the DA's proposal include setting an electoral threshold of 1 or 2% for national, provincial and local governments, which requires parties to secure 1 or 2% overall vote to qualify for seats in the legislature or council.

Another suggestion is to formalise coalition agreements to avoid conflicts, disruptions and instability which characterise the current state of coalitions, as well as establishing an independent registrar of political parties. The DA also wants to extend the time period for the election of mayors from the current 24 days from declaration of results, as well as to limit the motions of no confidence.

"In consultation with other parties, the DA will investigate limiting the frequency of motions of no confidence which can be brought within a legislature. These legislature changes will be implemented through the introduction of three private member’s bills," he said.

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