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Who will lead the Moonshot Pact? Seven opposition parties kick off national coalition convention

Who will lead the Moonshot Pact? Seven opposition parties kick off national coalition convention
From left: DA Leader John Steenhuisen. (Photo: Gallo Images / Volksblad / Mlungisi Louw) | ActionSA President Herman Mashaba. (Photo: Gallo Images / Darren Stewart) | IFP Leader Velenkosini Hlabisa. (Photo: Gallo Images / Darren Stewart) | Freedom Front Plus Leader Pieter Groenewald. (Photo: Gallo Images / Beeld / Deaan Vivier) | Independent SA National Civic Organisation's Zukile Luyenge. (Photo: Supplied) | United Independent Movement's Neil De Beer. (Photo: Shelley Christians) | Spectrum Party Leader Christopher Claassen. (Photo: Supplied)

Following weeks of discussions, seven opposition parties vying to take power after the 2024 elections are set to participate in a national coalition convention in Kempton Park. Who will be appointed to lead the ‘Moonshot Pact’ will be a key discussion point.

Opposition parties will hold discussions on power sharing at a multiparty national convention on 16-17 August as they explore how to create a formidable coalition in the event that the ANC drops below 50% in the 2024 election polls.

The DA, IFP, Freedom Front Plus (FF+), ActionSA, United Independent Movement (UIM), Independent SA National Civic Organisation (Isanco) and the Spectrum National Party will be attending the gathering, which will be held at Emperors Palace and will be chaired by Professor William Gumede

The FF+ has already disclosed that its preferred candidate to lead the Moonshot Pact and its likely presidential candidate is IFP leader Velenkosini Hlabisa, despite the DA being the official Opposition.

Daily Maverick understands that the DA holds the same sentiment and that its leader John Steenhuisen is gunning for the deputy president position, which, if he is elected, will see him becoming the leader of government business.

The DA has on several occasions explained that it has no expectations to lead the pact, despite it being its brainchild. The party says it also does not believe that because it is the official Opposition, it is obliged to be in charge and has instead pushed a stance of equal partnership.

Read more in Daily Maverick: ANC says DA’s ‘Moonshot Pact’ is costing it votes in KwaZulu-Natal

Speaking to Daily Maverick on the eve of the convention, ActionSA’s national chair, Michael Beaumont, explained there had been no discussions around the leadership of the overall pact over the 12 weeks that they have held consultative meetings. 

While staying mum about whom the party will be backing, Beaumont set out ActionSA’s thoughts on the convention and possible coalition agreement. 

“There will be a debate about power sharing, but we do not believe that the biggest party should be the one leading. It should be based on principle. So, if ActionSA has the strongest candidate, they should be put forward. 

“At a later stage we will measure the popularity of each leader with the public and that will also be considered,” he said.

The president of the UIM, Neil de Beer, expressed the same sentiment, saying that it was not obvious that Steenhuisen would automatically be at the helm.

“We are going to be meeting each other for the first time physically, so it cannot be that there are talks about which political party will be leading. All this talk about John and the DA being the big brother is utter rubbish. I will not allow that,” De Beer insisted.

Read more in Daily Maverick: Nkandla, we have a problem — Moonshot Pact takes shape, aiming at the ANC/EFF in 2024

The Institute of Race Relations (IRR) is expected to make its own representations at the convention. 

“A thriving South Africa is within reach. Simple, practical reforms can spark significant growth, inviting investment, reviving the economy and restoring jobs and dignity for countless citizens. Adopting a non-racial, pro-growth policy plan like that of the IRR is the right thing to do,” said the organisation’s head of strategic communications, Hermann Pretorius. 

The formation of a coalition pact by opposition parties is an initiative that started with the DA. Following his re-election at the party’s national conference in April 2023, Steenhuisen announced that the DA would be forming what was dubbed a Moonshot Pact, comprising smaller, like-minded parties working together.

Steenhuisen believes it is a realistic prospect that the ANC will drop below 50% in next year’s national election, as well as in some provinces, which allows the DA to play a part in ensuring that the ANC does not govern.  

He has continuously warned against the possibility of an ANC-EFF marriage in 2024, which he reckons would be to the detriment of the country. DM

Gallery

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