Coalitions set to dominate elections as independent candidates and smaller parties increase
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Cape Town - The silly-season of the election cycle is in full swing - from horse-trading to floor-crossing despite the uncertainty on when municipal elections will take place.
While the Independent Electoral Commission awaits the Constitutional Court’s decision on whether to agree to a postponement of local government elections scheduled for October 27, preparations are underway to meet the existing timetable.
This week the IEC announced a total preliminary figures on the number of candidates registered on the system to stand at 59 272. This is slightly lower than the 63 713 recorded during the 2016 election.
The number of political parties who will be contesting stood at 272, higher than the previous elections’ 205. The number of independent candidates also rose from 855 to 944.
But despite the rise of new political formations, data from a new survey conducted by the Institute for Justice and Reconciliation together with Afrobarometer showed continued decline in trust in both the ruling party and opposition parties.
The survey showed that the public’s trust in the ruling party stood at 27% while the trust in opposition parties came in at 24%. This represented a decline recorded over the past ten years from 61% and 40% respectively.
Chairperson of the South African National Civic Organization Bongikhaya Qhama, whose organisation has aligned itself to the ANC for elections, said they believed allowing prominent community leaders to stand under the ANC’s banner would assist in gaining public support.
“Many of the candidates that emerged from the ANC’s process did not succeed when it came to the process that involved the community.
“The community did not see many of them as reputable or meeting the requirements set out by the community or they previously failed in those roles.
“As a result we saw people being selected who are not party members but are long-standing leaders in the community and are trusted.”
Qhama, however, blasted the ANC’s decision to approach the Electoral Court to reopen the candidate submission process, adding that the party’s failures should not affect ongoing processes.
“As SANCO Western Cape we are disappointed by the fact that the movement was caught underprepared and their actions will take away the democratic rights from those who should have participated in these elections,” he added.
“This will be a slap in the face of every community that worked to ensure that the people they wanted to stand as candidates might not make it.”
Interim leader for the ANC in the Western Cape Lerumo Kalako said the province was not affected by the issue of unregistered candidates.
“What is outstanding in the Western Cape are resolutions around disputes filed which is a matter that is handled by the Provincial List Committee which works under the elections committee led by comrade Kgalema Motlanthe.
“Another issue is the vetting of candidates where we make sure that none of the people selected to stand as PR or ward candidates have criminal records or pending criminal charges against them.
“This process was meant to have happened prior to the submission of names but the ANC is allowed to divulge any information we get to the IEC about candidates and we will be able to make a substitution where need be.
“We don’t have time frames as to when these issues will be resolved as we don’t know when the PLC will meet but we have around 400 candidates that have to be vetted and a lot of disputes, there have been many, more than a hundred I would say.”
Political analyst, Sanusha Naidu, said coalition governments will once again be a trend in these upcoming elections as smaller parties and independent candidates become kingmakers.
“The question about kingmakers and coalitions are very real key points in these upcoming elections. The point about coalitions is that we must examine whether they are representing the will of the people or is it a jostling for control,” she said.
“Because overall the bigger parties have to start horse-trading and compromising with the smaller parties and those only become effective when they have that ability to play one against the other.
“In the bigger metros we need to look at how the EFF, DA, ANC and other parties are able to engage in some kind of coalition.”