South Africa


Multi-Party Charter for South Africa agrees on key power-sharing principles

Multi-Party Charter for South Africa agrees on key power-sharing principles
From left: Spectrum Party leader Christopher Claassen, United Independent Movement’s Neil de Beer, IFP leader Velenkosini Hlabisa, DA leader John Steenhuisen, Freedom Front Plus leader Pieter Groenewald, ActionSA president Herman Mashaba and the Independent SA National Civic Organisation’s Zukile Luyenge on the first day of the national convention on coalitions at Emperors Palace, Kempton Park, 17 August 2023. (Photo: Twitter / @Our_DA)

All parties involved in the Multi-Party Charter for South Africa signed a pre-election agreement, which covers their vision, priorities and shared governing principles. They also made decisions on power sharing, which will most likely benefit the DA as the biggest party in the potential coalition.

The seven opposition parties that have been part of the two-day coalition convention at Emperors Palace in Kempton Park decided that government positions would be allocated to parties based on the outcome of the 2024 elections. The parties will use a proportional system to determine exactly how they will share positions.

A decision was made that the leader of government business will be the leader of the biggest party, which would probably be Democratic Alliance (DA) leader John Steenhuisen as his party is the largest in the pact and is likely to retain its status following the 2024 elections.

“The largest party in a coalition in the National Assembly that arises from this agreement, and that does not hold the position of President of the Republic will hold the position of Leader of Government Business,” the agreement reads.

Daily Maverick has reported that it was part of the DA’s plan to clinch that position.

Steenhuisen highlighted the importance of the role during a press briefing on Thursday.

“The leader of government business in the current configuration is the Deputy President, but the two positions are distinct in the Constitution; it is dealt with in section 91(4) and 91(5). The leader of government business is an incredibly important position. It is the nexus for the legislative agenda; getting reforms passed is going to be so fundamentally important,” he said.

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

The seven parties meeting as part of the Multi-Party Charter for South Africa are the DA, Inkatha Freedom Pary (IFP), Freedom Front Plus (FF+), ActionSA, United Independent Movement (UIM), Independent SA National Civic Organisation (Isanco) and the Spectrum National Party (SNP).

They spent the past two days mulling over how to remove the ANC from power and keep the EFF from holding any governance positions.

‘A fair compromise’

IFP president Velenkosini Hlabisa said he was satisfied with the arrangement as the final decision had been made fairly.

“The IFP is very comfortable with the decision we arrived at because it is a fair compromise that we have a clear understanding of. In a coalition government, it is not always the case that a political party that has the majority will lead the coalition.

“Collectively, we agree that whoever should lead the charter for South Africa as a president should be decided once the results are out. We do not put one political party at the advantage at the expense of other parties,” he said.

FF+ leader Pieter Groenewald said that one of their non-negotiables when it came to power sharing was that appointments should be made on merit. 

“We say if you talk about power sharing we are talking about the structure of government, for instance, and Cabinet thereof. We say that we have one criterion, which is merit. We must have the best people to serve in the positions. So, when the issue came up of the president and all the other positions, we said we are not going to take a decision of who it will be, we must first wait for after elections and then we will choose the best person,” he said.

The agreement states that positions will be awarded based on merit and principle while the diversity of parties must be represented in leadership positions and the principle of separation of powers should be observed within the coalition.

Before the convention, several opposition party leaders questioned whether the DA was still considering working with the ANC after the 2024 elections.

The agreement reached on Thursday ruled out that prospect.

“We will not entertain any working arrangement or co-governing agreements with the ANC, EFF or any rival formations, and we will not vote for any office bearers of the ANC and EFF — nominated either directly or indirectly — at any inaugural meetings of the National Assembly, National Council of Provinces, and provincial legislature,” it read.

Lifestyle audits and an exit clause

The agreement slams cadre deployment and aims to build a professional public service instead.

All candidates who will be put forward to occupy office, either nationally or provincially, must undergo an independent lifestyle audit, the results of which will be considered before any resolution to support their candidature. The outcomes of the lifestyle audits will be made public.

The parties also agreed that a “fundamental and wholesale review of the Ministerial Handbook be initiated to ensure that a Cabinet of a new multi-party coalition government reflects the need to redirect budget resources to address the pressing needs of South Africans”.

The agreement will commence on the date of the founding parties signing it and can be amended only by consensus. However, parties can withdraw from the agreement “if they provide written notice of their exit from the Multi-Party Charter For South Africa or if they are removed from the agreement by a consensus decision of the other signatory parties”.

The agreement “will only cease to exist by unanimous resolution of the signatory parties or upon the adoption of a multi-party coalition agreement being agreed after the 2024 national and provincial elections”.

Charter slammed for lack of diversity

The Multi-Party Charter for South Africa has been criticised for its lack of diversity.

Their agreement states, “The collective cabinet or executive committee must reflect the diversity of the South African people.” But the negotiation team had only three women.

The DA brought along two of its female leaders, including party Parliamentary Whip Siviwe Gwarube.

“I can confidently say we had a 50-50 representation. I can’t speak for the other parties, but having looked at the incredible work that Siviwe and the contribution she made over the last two days, we will be greatly served by having more women in the room,” Steenhuisen said.

Hlabisa said it was clear that it had been an error for the gathering not to involve more women at the negotiation table.

“We acknowledge that our first meeting did not give a fair representation in terms of the matter of [women’s representation]. We do not want to beat around the bush about that one,” he said. DM


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  • Louise Wilkins says:

    Sounds good people! For the first time in a long time, I feel a tiny sliver of hope for our beautiful country. Actually, I feel quite excited about this. Keep it up!!

    • Sven Leisegang says:

      And frankly noting where they are falling short is good, as it paved the way for positive change.

      Publically available lifestyle audits is a great thought.

  • Jane Crankshaw says:

    This is very good news – just the idea of it is heartening!
    The reality remains to be seen but every South African who cares about an equitable future for this country should be behind this new political Alliance.
    The ANC has had every opportunity to act on its promises…and it has not delivered merely plundered and robbed in a feeding frenzy of corruption under the guise of “redistribution of wealth” and “economic empowerment of the previously disadvantaged”. All this has benefitted but a few and their cronies and opportunists who saw the gap!
    Time for change….. and that time is now!

  • Roy Haines says:

    I truly wish the Multi-party pact can achieve victory in the 2024 general election. South Africa desperately needs a change in government and a major change in direction. The fact that the IFP and Action SA are part of the pact bodes well, as this will hopefully attract the black vote. Now the real work begins to get the youth and the non-voting public to get off their backsides to register and vote in 2024.

  • Glyn Fogell says:

    Light at the end of a very long and dark tunnel, perhaps? We can only hope.

  • ndumisorm says:

    Looks and sounds all good. Except the signatories to this coalition ignored one glaring fact, they simply do not have the numbers. If their primary aim is to remove the ANC from government, they will not do it without the EFF and to a lesser degree the UDM. Whether or not the ANC drops below 50% becomes immaterial so long as there’s opportunity to bargain with the EFF. In effect what this charade will achieve is the exact opposite of what it seeks to achieve. There will be an ANC/EFF coalition government come 2024. If you did not like the EFF in government, brace yourself, leaving them out of this coalition will usher them into government

    • Rob Rhodes-Houghton says:

      Have to agree, sadly.

      • Gugu1 K says:

        There is still enough time to get the numbers. 18 million eligible voters have signed out of the democratic process of and of these 12 million are not even registered with the IEC (they can’t all be drunks and invalids).

        The clever guys will get the data from StatsSA and Home Affairs and work out who and where they are, they’ll hopefully get the breakdown down to the village, farm, district, informal settlement, township and suburb level, find out who they are employed by and get their contact details.

        Then the Charter must work out a plan to promote the party/parties having the best chance of getting these folks to wake up on voting day and vote for one or two of us. Desperate times call for desperate measures.

    • Johan Buys says:

      Yep, I predict there is FAR greater odds of the Zupta clan side of the ANC approving working with EFF to keep control than with the others.

      So what REALLY needs to happen is that the decent part of ANC (yes there are competent honest ones), break free from the ANC+SACP+COSATU alliance. It would probably consist mainly of the old UDF and a part of the ANC. Then the crazies plus SACP can merge with EFF but the xUDF can join the moonshot and probably sit with over 70%.

      I live in hope, but that hope is supported by the shrugs and embarrassment when I ask friends that do/did support ANC how they can rationally and morally justify continuing to do so.

    • William Dryden says:

      Anybody who thinks the EFF will contribute anything in a coalition government except making money disappear, are not thinking straight, hopefully the voters will decide.

      • Glyn Morgan says:

        Right William. The time, Ladies and Gentlemen, has come to decide the future of South Africa. We can give up, cancel the Multiparty Charter, cry in our pretzels and shoot the dog. OR maintain momentum with the Charter going forward and trust that we will win. IF we win, the positive effect will be felt nationwide very quickly. IF we do not win nationally, we will probably win in three provinces. The Western Cape is fairly certain, KZN and Gauteng are hopefuls. Three provinces run as co-operating federal entities will be a powerful block.

  • Thys.feldtmann says:

    Very good news BUT what bothers me is that parties can withdraw from the agreement by just providing a written notice… We know how fickle politicians can be so what guarantee do we as the public have that what we vote for will actually happen? When it becomes time to choose a president and their party doesn’t win it, they just withdraw and join someone else to fight against the charter they supported in the first place? It all looks really great on paper but what are they going to do to show the general public that they mean business? We need some sort of commitment from them that it won’t just blow up in our faces.

  • Beverley Roos-Muller says:

    Allow me to tell you what I see: a line of men. No women. Again. This lineup does not speak to me or give me any encouragement that our rights as women have been heard let alone acted upon, and I speak as someone who has lobbied for this for nearly 40 years, as a Parliamentary candidate (1987) and in Lusaka (1989). I will not vote for this group as it represents, very visibly, yet another wannabe power grouping without the slightest understanding of what transformation means. The bigger challenge is to find someone or something to actually support/vote for.
    Dr Beverley Roos-Muller

    • So you are willing to ignore all other positives that this coalition may bring simply because you don’t like what they look like? Unfortunately we don’t have the luxury of voting according to ideology in this country.

      Due to the ANC destruction we now need to vote pragmatically, not according to gender, race or other nice-to-haves. We need to vote with our heads not our hearts. There is too much at stake at this point.

      • Alan Paterson says:

        Agree completely. Shall we also immediately reject the initiative because we are offended by the lack of LGBTQI+ presence in the lineup? Personally I don’t give a flying fig if the next President is Thuli Madonsela or Glynnis Breytenbach or any other highly competent person as long as we get rid of the current incumbent and his odious ANC.

      • Beverley Roos-Muller says:

        Women lobbying for voter rights during the American Civil War were told to put away their demands as the battle against slavery was a greater cause. They were told that again during WWI, and in every crisis since. We are not going to fall for that argument again. It’s not nice-to-have women in power. It is critical for the future: no society that does not ensure the actual empowerment of women, in a real sense, is a democracy, nor does it reflect a wide range of opinions and values. Note that this has happened in the bad joke that we call Women’s Month.

    • Jane Crankshaw says:

      This is true – I thought the same thing but it’s a good start! Slowly slowly catchee monkey!

    • andrew farrer says:

      So you’re going to give your vote to the party that has a female leader? Never mind if she’s competant? There’s only one party in SA with a woman at the helm, and from what i read in the news at the time, she was booted from her previous party for nepotism (and possibly other corrupt actions?).
      Unfortunately, in SA there’s an overiding patriarchal society, which reflects in our politics. But if we’re going to move past this, the first step is getting rid of the anc eff clowns.

      • P B M .. says:

        Andrew, I don’t want to be negative, but it looks like the gripes are starting already. The country is basically on life support and Dr Beverley Roos-Miller is already calling them “yet another wannabe power grouping without the slightest understanding of what transformation means” . She is entitled to her opinion, but for heavens’ sake, give them a break! IFP leader Hlabisa has already said that there should’ve been more female representation. So why does she have emphasise what has already been stated? If they achieve what they set out to achieve which is to remove the ANC from power, at this moment in time, it is more important than gender.

    • Lisbeth Scalabrini says:

      We can not get it all right away. Let us start getting rid of the ANC+EFF and then we can work on the details.

    • Glyn Morgan says:

      So, ampiem, you will not vote for the Multi-Party Charter. Pray tell, just who WILL you vote for?

  • Johan Buys says:

    Can DM please do a short explainer on the “leader of government business” in practical terms? I presume there are still the ministers and their DG in the almost 40 ministries we are blessed with? With so many coalition partners the moonshot probably can’t rationalize the ministries to the 16 we should have…

    So what does the leader of business do Monday to Friday?

    • Greeff Kotzé says:

      I believe it is essentially our analogue to the “Leader of the House of Commons” job title in the UK Parliament (which is currently held by Penny Mordaunt).

      As for over here, it has been the an additional role for the Deputy President when Parliament is sitting, up to now. One has to wonder how much Mabuza got done in that position? Did he even attend? It sounds like the MPC group might be considering a slight reassignment of responsibilities there, or actually starting to use the title for it’s intended purpose. It also seems that Steenhuisen is signaling that he would rather stay in Parliament, than go to the Union Buildings.

  • Brian Doyle says:

    Would have liked to see the Patriotic Alliance included as this will boost the voter numbers and would have been a good fit. Also each party should have included women in the meeting and subsequent photo to demonstrate that it not a male dominated assembly.

  • Paddy Ross says:

    There are too many pessimistic comments above. A classic example of ‘can not see the wood for the trees’. There is no point in basing one’s pessimism on previous years’ election figures. 2024 is currently a blank canvas and everyone who cares about the future of South Africa should spend the next twelve months convincing people of the importance of using their right to vote.

  • Senzo Moyakhe says:

    As charitable and pragmatic the principles of this proposed coalition are, there is one pervasive conviction that runs through our South African Black population, a lack of trust of ANYTHING run by a White man. It is mainly based on the lived experiences that came with Apartheid. The DA for example has policies and effectively implements them in many cases, but at the helm is White man, and the top tier represents that demographic leaning as well. I cannot forget the fact that my mother was in prison – detention without trial – for 9 months (and also had a miscarriage at the time), for simply being the secretary of the local street committee and that’s just one thing. There are many others…

    I’m well educated and well experienced in the economic world. But I cannot see past the DA leadership, it is a wall soaked in blood for me. There are many of us who sit on the same bus. You comment on getting them up to vote, but it is a gargantuan task to nullify those feelings. I left the ANC in 2008 as I commented at the election of Zuma as a failure by taking an obviously morally and ethically compromised individual to lead the party – and by extension the country. It brings tears to my eyes that I was correct. There’s never been anywhere else to cast my vote, so I’ve never bothered. When Herman first put his hand up with ActionSA I had high hopes, I don’t know where he lost the plot. I look at this coalition and all I see is DA, and it’s hard to see past the blood…

    • William Stucke says:

      What an extraordinarily racist comment!

      The shedding of blood during the Apartheid years was not limited to white people, by any means. Don’t you remember the wars between the ANC and the IFP? The black policement?

      Nor did all white people supported the National Party government. But a majority of white people DID support the Referendum to extend the vote to all.

      You equate the DA with Apartheid? Are you so ignorant that you don’t know that the DA is the descendent of the opponents of the Nats, represented for many lonely years in parliament by Helen Suzman. You won’t vote for the MPC because the DA has a white leader. Purely on a racist basis? Really?

      I congratulate you on recognising the corrupt nature of Zuma and on leaving the ANC. You now have the opportunity to voting for a grouping of people who are serious about getting South Africa back on track, without making any racist assumptions.

      All Trees may be Green, but not all Green things are Trees. Please revise your archaic viewpoints and see past the surface of skin colour, and judge people on merit.

      • Senzo Moyakhe says:

        William, put aside the anger as it puts in a spot where you cannot see the wood for the trees.

        It would help if you read, “The DA for example has policies and effectively implements them in many cases…”, so you can contextualise what I am saying. Taking the actions of Ms. Helen Suzman “…for many lonely years in parliament..”, reflects the actions of Ms. Suzman, not White South Africa and it is grossly unfair to Ms. Suzman and the few other White South Africans who put their hands up and laid their body and soul in opposition to Apartheid. Bear in mind that she stood in a Tri-Cameral Parliament, without the “Coloureds” and the “Indians” not able to debate matters in that top chamber. Blacks did not “exist”.

        Taking the DA’s lineage from Apartheid days and equating it with the DA of today is unfortunately a closetted view. The constituency that sat with folded arms while those few ladies and gentlemen shook the can make up the bulk of today’s DA. If that constituency was openly visible in opposition when the Group Areas Act was enacted and implemented (think Sophiatown District Six, Walmer etc.), or sent their kids to those schools of the Bantu Education Act or acted in clear rejection of what was put in place, your argument might be clearer to me. Resistance to oppression must be visible and vociferous to maintain relevance. That’s why Ms. Suzman is a beacon in the front of your mind, she was that. Where were the other voices, bodies and souls?

      • Senzo Moyakhe says:

        William, if I may continue…

        The KwaZulu conflicts took place in KwaZulu (and were a painful stain our development) not in all of South Africa. Apartheid was in ALL South Africa. That conflict also had a large “proxy war” element as a driver. Feel free to research and we can debate it thereafter.

        “Nor did all white people supported the National Party government. But a majority of white people DID support the Referendum to extend the vote to all.” Why was there a need for a referendum? What was the situation in South Africa when the Referendum was proposed?

        William, a reality is that the bulk of White South Africa has NO experience of what life was like for Black South Africa, nor what it is like today. My education and work has taken me to many countries all over the world, mainly promoting SA as a viable investment destination. But most times I spoke tongue in cheek because I live that darkness I hid when I promoted. I still live in both sides of the fence, monied enough to afford a home in our GAA White suburbs and yet firmly rooted in the township. What is happening in our townships is linked directly to the decreasing voter registration numbers and reducing ANC vote. There’s a lot more to say, but DM commentary space is limited. I truly want you to see my closing argument that talks to my “blood” comment.

        Find a viable forum to discuss & we’ll take it further…

    • JAMES GOODWIN says:

      You do realise where the DA started right? Progressive Party led by Helen Suzman who stood alone representing anti-apartheid belief for 14 years! That’s strength if I ever saw it. The DA and John has nothing to do with Apartheid and you can’t link them in such a way.

      I don’t doubt you’re educated nor question your intellect but judgement of character is where I see flaws. It’s super painful but looking ahead and moving forward is so much healthier and freeing. You reject Zuma for being a morally reprehensible and ethically devoid leader so you show ability to make good judgements but try to let some of the pain go. I’m a white English South African born in 1994 and proud to be born free, I firmly reject racism and any judgements made on others unless it is of their individual character. I may not make any sense to you but I felt I couldn’t ignore your post and not offer some perspective.

      Don’t feel you are minimising the horrors of history in allowing yourself to be less burdened by those feelings. Everyone deserves some closure.

  • Dragon Slayer says:

    All positive. But the flaw is that the focus is on unseating the ANC rather than building the best, most competent, civil service to deliver public services.
    This will simply drive the Marxist left to band together using the contrived ‘threat’ that the majority will lose the little they have!
    The very incompetence of the ANC will be its defence!
    The ANC will double down on it being the liberator from a government that is failing. Nothing like keeping the majority desperate, dependent and uneducated and a political tool!
    Maybe the Moonshot coalition is banking on the growing black middle-class that wants better for their children to make the difference?

  • Denise Smit says:

    Where is Rise Manzi and Mmusi Maimane and why are they not there, This speaks of them choosing ANC/EFF. DS

    • Greeff Kotzé says:

      Or perhaps, as new parties, they believe their electoral fortunes will fare better without the “Co-opted by the DA” look? And perhaps this is good. There are bound to be some who wish to vote neither for the ANC nor for a (in their view) DA-aligned party.

      I, for one, trust that Maimane and Zibi will both make principled choices when the time comes.

  • William Dryden says:

    Although there is a slight glimmer of hope for South Africa, I’ll feel a whole lot happier when the ANC are defeated in the 2024 elections.

  • Mervyn Bennun says:

    The sole purpose of this alliance is to remove the ANC from power. There is not a word about protecting and advancing the Constitution as a whole and the Bill of Rights in particular. The ANC adopted the Freedom Charter and the Freedom Charter was incorporated in the Constitution, and South Africa had the hope of realising a great future. If the coalition had pledged its commitment to the Constitution then hope would revive. I cannot see the ANC accepting election defeat and interpreting this as anything but an attempt to go backwards. The phrase “counter-revolution” will be used; will the ANC meekly give up power? Will the coalition attempt to amend the Constitution to bring back the death sentence? To bring back “group rights”? To change the authority of the courts generally and the Constitutional Court in particular? Why did the coalition choose to be silent on these matters? Will the military stay out of the picture, or find it necessary to “protect the Constitution”? There are terrible dangers ahead.

    • Glyn Morgan says:

      The Multi-Party Charter has only just been formed, early days for details. You might have seen that the DA is a member of this Charter. Read up the DA’s policies and you will see what specs are there, amongst others.

  • Glyn Morgan says:

    Great start! Now how do we get this message to the least read level. Daily Maverick for free in all official languages?

  • Hippo Zourides says:

    Great initiative. For those complaining about the gender component, just imagine if you had ALL the other opposition parties present….there would have been only one woman present, Patricia. That is not the fault of the Pact – it is the fault of the party followers who choose a man to lead their party. So, please stop wasting your time to seek gender parity at this level. Let’s rather see it in the choice of ministers, directors-general, MPs and MPC’s, mayors, speakers, etc….
    The points that concern me are
    – what punitive measures will be put in place to punish those who “come for the ride” and then bail out when they cannot secure juicy positions, etc….? We cannot wait for 5 years to punish the flip-floppers.
    – I hope the Pact raises enough donor money to campaign far and wide to reach all levels of society before election time. Every official language channel, including social media, must cover the benefits of this Pact working.
    – For the sake of those of us who do not understand fancy political talk, simplify the language of the communication. For example “Undergo an independent lifestyle audit” could be replaced by simple language such as “Candidates will be asked where they made/found their money to afford for properties, cars and extra luxuries that are not affordable within their salaries”.

  • Luca Wildt says:

    I see this as a very positive step in fixing South Africa. Something I’d like to see this Coalition thinking about, is the question of making appointments on Merit, vs Diversity. These things are never proportional, and if Diversity is the priority, then merit becomes secondary, and vise versa. At this point, I would wish that we prioritise having the strongest person in each position. There is much to fix. we will need put our best foot forward.

  • What exactly is this MPC offering voters? What are the policies you’re committing to govern by? Can you give a practical example of what will be different? Will BBBEE be dropped in favour of a market economy, for example? Will Policing powers be devolved to provinces capable of running their own? Will collapsed SOE’s be privatised? Will the bloated Parliament be reduced in size?

  • Municipal Engineering Departments must be restructured to act independently of the party-political mayoral control. The Town Engineer(s) must control the available infrastructure funds on a priority basis, control personnel appointments on merit, control design standards & quality according to SANS & ECSA standards. All of the mentioned controls must be irrespective of party-political change.

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