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SA gets a glimpse of a Multi-Party Charter coalition post the May elections and it’s not pretty

SA gets a glimpse of a Multi-Party Charter coalition post the May elections and it’s not pretty
ActionSA leader Herman Mashaba speaks during the big debate at The Gathering Twenty Twenty-Four Election Edition the Cape Town International Convention Centre on 14 March 2024. (Photo: Shelley Christians)

The opposition Multi-Party Charter is not about trust or friendship, but the means to ensure the ANC is voted out of power on 29 May, ActionSA leader Herman Mashaba told the big debate on Thursday at Daily Maverick’s The Gathering Twenty Twenty-Four.

‘I am not in the business of trust. I am in the business of saving our country from the ANC… It has nothing to do with friendship, with trust,” Action SA leader Herman Mashaba told a full house at The Gathering at the Cape Town International Convention Centre on Thursday.

the gathering 2024 big debate

Patriotic Alliance leader Gayton McKenzie, Justice Minister Ronald Lamola, DA leader John Steenhuisen, IFP leader Velenkosini Hlabisa, Action SA leader Herman Mashaba with moderators Stephen Grootes and Queenin Masuabi during at The Gathering Twenty Twenty-Four Election Edition at the Cape Town International Convention Centre on 14 March 2024. (Photo: Shelley Christians)

Just before that backhanded comment, his Multi-Party Charter (MPC) colleague, DA leader John Steenhuisen, had emphasised working together.

“We must work across party lines. This is the first time in 30 years the opposition is working together to protect the country against ANC corruption,” Steenhuisen said.

Read more in Daily Maverick: The Gathering 2024

Justice Minister and ANC MP Ronald Lamola would have none of it. “As the ANC, we are very clear we will still be the leader of this country and we will account to this country,” Lamola said.

Anyone who thought differently was in for a surprise, particularly the IFP, as the uMkhonto Wesizwe (MK) party was nibbling at its support in KwaZulu-Natal.

the gathering lamola

Justice Minister Ronald Lamola addresses The Gathering Twenty Twenty-Four Election Edition at the Cape Town International Convention Centre on 14 March 2024. (Photo: Shelley Christians)

Unlike the IFP and DA, the ANC was not in an “unfriendly” and “untrusting” relationship, said Lamola, pointing out how Mashaba left the DA.

“They can’t even agree who will be the leader. You can’t have a coalition like this leading the country… They have to be functionalist,” Lamola said, appealing for all South Africans to pitch in to ensure the country’s future.

Read more in Daily Maverick: Elections 2024

Patriotic Alliance (PA) leader Gayton McKenzie butted in to take the conversation back to ex-president Jacob Zuma — now suspended from the ANC — and the political party for which he’s the poster face, MK.

the gathering gayton mckenzie

Gayton McKenzie during The Gathering Twenty Twenty-Four Election Edition at the Cape Town International Convention Centre on 14 March 2024. (Photo: Shelley Christians)

The IFP, DA and ActionSA were pretending they were not worried about Zuma and the MK party, but they were strategising how to counter them, McKenzie said. “Jacob Zuma is going to be the wrecking ball of this election.”

Read more in Daily Maverick: DA and Zuma’s MK party big winners; ANC and EFF flop, new Brenthurst survey finds

It got heated as the discussion turned to the revolving door in coalitions at local government level, with the DA, ActionSA and the PA making sharp comments about each others’ conduct in Johannesburg and Ekurhuleni.

“Here’s your coalition government,” quipped Lamola, to laughter from the audience.

But IFP leader Velenkosini Hlabisa stood up for the MPC — and to reassure the audience the sharp exchanges they had seen between members of the MPS were an exception.

the gathering hlabisa

Velenkosini Hlabisa during The Gathering Twenty Twenty-Four Election Edition at the Cape Town International Convention Centre on 14 March 2024. (Photo: Shelley Christians)

“We have worked a lot since May last year to get agreement… We can’t afford a coalition government that will fight against each other instead of dealing with the challenges of South Africa.”

Back to a more serious tone, Steenhuisen was asked about the DA’s stance on the Gaza-Israel war — effectively whether Israel is conducting a genocide in Gaza.

With the United Nations’ International Court of Justice considering South Africa’s genocide case against Israel, it was necessary to see the process through, the DA leader said, adding that did not mean having to wait to agree that what is happening must stop now.

“I think Ramadan offers us the best opportunity to make this clarion call to get the humanitarian [aid] in there and look for mature leadership in Palestine and Israel.”

Steenhuisen said South Africa’s democratic transition was an example to follow. The bombing of Gaza was not going to get the hostages released nor Israel’s border secured, but negotiations would.

Read more in Daily Maverick: Middle East crisis news hub

It was a more nuanced stance than that of five months ago. The DA, seen as pro-Israel, is understood to have lost just under two percentage points in its voting support over its stance on the Gaza-Israel war.

Concerns were expressed over the recent leak of political party candidates lists, for which the Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) has taken responsibility. Lamola said it was “the ANC lists” that were leaked. Steenhuisen shot back, “The DA lists were leaked Thursday,” saying this showed the “IEC is failing at the first hurdle”.

While Steenhuisen swatted away the furore over the DA letter asking for outside election observers, Lamola pointed out the IEC had run elections with stringent adherence to the regulations. South Africa traditionally has had independent election observers registered by the IEC, Lamola said.

Amid the repeated touts for votes — on the one hand for the MPC, and on the other for the governing ANC — the PA seemed to want a return to the apartheid dompas black South Africans were forced to carry, but this time with a xenophobic twist.

“You must carry documents [like passports]… I don’t care what nickname we give those documents,” McKenzie replied to a question about what such documents should be called.

But politicians are politicians and at the end of a heavy, sometimes loud debate, all smiled and shook hands.

It’s a foretaste of what’s to come over the next 2½ months of electioneering until the 29 May elections. DM


Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Johan Buys says:

    the MPC needs a leader from outside, one that also brings in a few million votes. It will never get ahead with Steenhuys (or any of the others).

    Time for Trevor Manuel to dust off his national duty uniform? Like Eminem said : one shot, one opportunity, else it is game over, Zim 2.0

    • D Rod says:

      Please not. He is another Pravin. SA was just lucky that global economic climate was good during his tenure….

    • Rodney Weidemann says:

      How abut bringing in Thuli Madonsela? – I doubt most voters for any of the MPC parties would argue with having her as a presidential candidate…

      • Gordon Cyril says:

        Madonsela has revealed herself to be a poorly researched, emotive and frankly divisive character when dipping her ill educated toe into the Gaza-Israel war. She has come across as both a Hamas supporting shill and an appeaser, but one which prejudices Jews. I for one would resist this hypocrite’s involvement

      • Johan Buys says:

        Rodney: what about both? Plus we can probably name two dozen people that will make us sleep better for our future prospects.

        I am heavily invested in physical assets here, but I am reconsidering how smart that was. I vote DA but I do so while wanting to scream at how stupid they are in their leadership selection. The Madam must exit stage left, so must John. There is nothing wrong with contributing from around the table instead of losing at the head of the table. There are very competent not white leaders that can garner DA and MPC about 4m votes from the other side (the old UDF). So an 8m vote swing in effect.

        Why is the DA and MPC so stuck in non-strategic thinking?????? Former prisoner zuma and his sidekick fraser laugh themselves to sleep every night because our opposition are playing EXACTLY the game they want us to.

        Very frustrating

      • Johan Buys says:

        Rodney: thought I replied but seems not.

        what about both her and Trevor and a dozen people that are better than what is on offer…

        I am not optimistic about our future. I do vote DA but am frustrated with their leadership. Zille must go. it is far better to sit at the main table and give input than sit at the head of the little table in the corner. The DA does NOT get that basic truth.

        The current opposition circus plays exactly the script that former prisoner zuma wanted. Half a dozen headless chicken bumping into each other in the yard. Get a real leader that can bring over a few million ANC voters. Say Trevor Manuel carries 4m old UDF votes : that is an 8 million vote swing = election won. Don’t know he will, but the country is facing a big inflection point in May.

  • Lysergic Acid says:

    I do love politics, unfortunately in South Africa and around the world, the only problem with politics is that it involves politicians.

    • Kanu Sukha says:

      I love the pseudonym … like so many others choose to hide behind (why I don’t know)!! Just curious … is it bigger than Trump’s ? Size matters !

  • Whataboutboxer Animalfarm says:

    Echo chambers rarely lead to good solutions, every idea needs to be criticised to improve it.
    Coalitions are about debating till we agree, embracing disagreements.
    These are different political parties, they are supposed to be different.
    Lomalo mocking a debate shows how rarely he is exposed to it inside his own organisation.
    There are enough dictatorships in this world to show the results of rooms that are in agreement.

  • Steve Davidson says:

    Mashaba, Mckenzie and LaMola. Morons. Sorry John, but it looks like the great idea is trashed already. Oh well, let’s hope the DA can keep the Western Cape going while the rest of the country heads further down the plug hole. Such a pity. Now, where’s my passport…

    • Greeff Kotzé says:

      Two of the names you mentioned are not part of the MPC.

      • Steve Davidson says:

        Erm yes, I know that. You obviously don’t do alliterations. My point is that the idea of coalitions with any one of those three parties should be enough for the DA to forget the whole idea (and the rest of the country) and rather just concentrate on the WC. Those others – probably along with the rest of the MPC – are just not worth the bother.

    • Francois J Marais says:

      Steve got mine renewed and moving my money overseas.
      We have to agree that the 350 year modernisation project here at the foot of Africa has failed and we have to move on.

      • Rodney Weidemann says:

        You may like to call the subjugation of the indigenous population, the locking them up (in delightful places like John Vorster Square), torturing them, forcing them off their land and giving them the kind of education only fit for ‘drawers of water and hewers of wood’ as a ‘350 year modernisation project’, but normal people call it what it is: colonisation and domination….

        • Kanu Sukha says:

          It’s just part of the Zionist mindset … but they will get over it sometime in the future … like the ones they like to ridicule as ‘self hating’ Jews, already have ! I little like the handful of conscientious objectors here in the heydays of apartheid.

          • Graeme de Villiers says:

            Where did ‘Zionist’ come into it. besides your bias?

          • Denise Smit says:

            Have you ever watched Shaka Zulu. Are you aware of the political killings? Go back then 350 years and see how we will look at the bottom of Africa or any place in Africa for that matter

          • Malcolm McManus says:

            I think those conscientious objectors and many if not most of their white UDF loving liberal varsity friends left South Africa for Aus in the mid 90’s as soon as they achieved the democracy they sought. Shortly after they had finished with their world class apartheid education. They protested, they conquered and they didn’t like the result, so they left.

        • Andre Swart says:

          Every square meter of land on the planet was conquered by the current inhabitants in battle against the predecessors.

          Only in SA did the victorious NP willingly decided to share the land with those they defeated in war.

          A miracle!

    • Is there hope South Africa? says:

      What a narrow minded view: “…let’s hope the DA can keep the Western Cape going while the rest of the country heads further down the plug hole.” Don’t you think that the rand getting weaker and weaker will affect the W Cape? Think oil price for a start. And what about migration? If the W Cape is the only area that is “kept going” don’t you think all the migrants (documented or undocumented) will head there too?
      The W Cape is just the top deck of the Titanic. If the rest of the ship goes down, it is impossible to stop the inevitable.

  • D'Esprit Dan says:

    And whilst the politicians carry on with their petty squabbling, the country continues to fall apart. We really lack decent leadership across the board.

  • ST ST says:

    The MPC and (functioning) coalitions might well be one way to get SA politicians and citizens to finally form a rainbow nation. Maybe that’s what we should have done to begin with.

  • Lawrence Jacobson says:

    All this focus on politicians, as if they are pied pipers capable of playing a flute and leading a citizenry to the promised land. Great countries are great because of the people, not the politicians. Great politicians are great because of the people, not their leadership or magnetic personalities. Every country gets the leadership it deserves. No truer words need to be said.

    South Africa’s salvation needs to be citizen led. Right now, if the greatest leader that ever existed had to materialise, this might have happened many times already, we are so divided as a country that we probably wouldn’t even notice.

    • Kanu Sukha says:

      The “promised land” ? And all along I thought that was Israel and the occupied territories … soon to be ’emptied’ of all Palestinians ? Are you sure you are not confusing it with the ‘American Dream’ … where Europeans wiped out almost all the indigenous people, and appropriated the “land of the brave and free” into their national anthem ? And we are one of the *hithole countries !

    • Mike Schroeder says:

      Very true words!!

  • Michele Rivarola says:

    How about some common policies or is that going to be an afterthought? That is what has sunk coalitions before and will sink them again until members realise that in team there is no I.

  • Louis Fourie says:

    Opposition parties in a coalition can, at least in theory, keep each other on their toes, whereas the monolithic ANC is built on patronage, nepotism, impunity and secrecy. We have overwhelming evidence of the ANC’s failures due to its principle of putting the party before the country. It is time for change.

  • Rae Earl says:

    It’s all about me. It’s all about my party. We will continue to fight endlessly to ensure we are the leaders and we are the leading party. To hell with South Africa. Imagine if the MPC suddenly found a Winston Churchill or a JFK. Not much chance of that happening, but I’ll support the DA. It’s the only party that has the ability to run SA with some modicum of honesty, state awareness and neutrality.

  • Stanislaw Hohowsky says:

    Politicians are the scum of the earth. Living off the backs of hard working South Africans. Not one has denied their yearly increase or their lavish lifestyles and advantages.
    They leave these show meetings and go get drunk laughing at the fools who vote them into power.

  • Joe Soap says:

    As much as meetings like this organised by DM may help in some ways, at this juncture not very constructive in that not all leaders were represented but more importantly without any pre-election coalition agreement between some parties it was always going to be “competitive”. One understands the reluctance for a pre-election coalition agreement in that with the newbies, there is uncertainty as to the relative strengths of the parties, particularly in the “fluid” dynamic election environment where ActionSA support is not clear and that of the IFP seems to be growing, even in the face of MKP.

  • Geoff Coles says:

    It’s all about Mashaba, all about McKenzie…..sigh!

  • Kim Webster says:

    Lamola’s concern about who leads says it all. Position most important! Principles? Not at all.

  • Colin Braude says:

    Justice Minister and ANC MP Ronald Lamola said “we will account to this country”

    Can the ANC begin by accounting how an about-to-be-liquidated party, unable to pay a campaign debt for four years or its staff or SARS, suddenly became cash flush (exactly a week before he trotted off to the ICJ to represent Hamas)?

    • Rodney Weidemann says:

      Follow the money from Kalahari Manganese (owned by one of Putin’s buddies) and I’ll bet it leads directly to Lootfreely House…

  • Sam van Coller says:

    There are different trends taking place in our political arena. The most troubling is the growing indication that identity on the basis of ethnicity, skin colour, language and other such divisive factors is trumping diversity and getting in the way of addressing the real socio-economic issues. Dr Verwoerd must be laughing his head off! The growing manifestation of big egos in the political arena exacerbates the identity trend. Until we have charismatic leaders that can build bridges and not promote their own narrow interest group, fragmentation along the lines currently being displayed will render the political arena impossible. I admire Mbali Ntuli greatly both for what she is saying and what she is doing. She is so right in saying we have developed a dependency on the political arena for the solution of our problems. Maybe coalitions will start a long process of South Africans coming to their senses and realising that ‘We are stronger together’ to quote the Springboks. We are the players on the field. The politicians are sitting in the stands enjoying the fruits of our tireless efforts. It is clearly going to be painful but it is up to us at community level.

  • David Crossley says:

    Find a really good business leader to head up the MPC – or even a Thuli Madonsela. Maybe the time has come for some really radical changes – like removing politicians entirely and replacing them with a group of really good business leaders. Imagine! No more mealy-mouthed politicians on the make……

  • Random Comment says:

    Steenhuizen is NOT appropriately qualified to lead the DA, let alone the MPC.
    Zille seems to have lost the plot and is hanging on for dear life.
    Gayton and the PA are irreparably tainted by various corruption scandals.
    Mashaba destroyed all confidence in him while Mayor of Jhb.
    MK is a Zulu gangster party, hellbent on violence.

    The long-suffering SA Voter really isn’t spoilt for choice in 2024…

  • jcdville stormers says:

    Ronald Lamola you cant account for the corruption and stolen money,so stop lying

  • jcdville stormers says:

    In politics you vote for the least corrupt party

  • Fernando Moreira says:

    Chalk and cheese to what we have now !!

    Vote DA

  • Paddy Ross says:

    Lamola is in no position to criticise differences within the MPC. The ANC has more factions that are tearing the ‘old’ ANC apart than the MPC has political partners.

  • Anthony Krijger says:

    The Italians have been doing this for 30 or more years. Take a leaf out of their book how to run ugly coalitions, even when they fail an election is not always called immediately.

  • MARIANE ROUX says:

    “Until we have charismatic leaders that can build bridges and not promote their own narrow interest group, fragmentation along the lines currently being displayed will render the political arena impossible. ”
    I agree with this statement by Sam van Collar with the lack of a charismatic leader talking with persuasion about the inclusion of all South Africans and a definite plan forward from the largest opposition the DA

  • eish Effedup says:

    At the end of the day its the populace that will decide. If they don’t mind the present chaos and corruption (and it doesn’t look like as if they do) then there is nothing stopping SA of becoming Africa by default. I don’t have much hope of things getting better , only Capexit possibly could keep me in SA.

    • Stephen Browne says:

      Please read the second half of your last sentence a few times. That’s as far as most of the brave Exiters have thought I think.

  • Eddy Van Diermen says:

    How about Trevor Noah as a Bi-Partisan Coalition Leader ?

  • Mbokodo Bitso says:

    I think it’s Time for Trevor Manuel to dust off his national duty uniform

  • Andre Pistorius says:

    Good luck to the MPC, but I am afraid the odds are against it. The only realistic solution which could work in this country is the obvious but mostly ignored necessity for a coalition of what is left of the the ANC, and the DA and possibly the IFP and VF. They simply have to bury the hatchets and do what is best for the country. That will do away with the dangers of small “kingmaking” parties causing the tail to wag the dog. It will mean that some “wannabe” high flyers will have their egos crushed but we are at a junction in this country where leaders with vision and integrity are required. We are now heading for a “made in hell” coalition between the projected 30-40% vote for the ANC, to be dictated to by the projected 10-15% of the MK (If they survive the Court challenges against them) and the projected 10-15% of the EFF. The MPC have stated its firm resolve not to enter into any coalitions with the ANC but the political landscape is evolving at such fast pace that pre-election decisions need to be revisited. Rather a stormy but stable coalition where two or three strong parties could keep each other in check than to have some of the worst social and political outcasts and other unsavoury characters having a seat at the feeding trough. The reality is that no party will for the foreseeable future command an outright majority. Time is running out and no matter how difficult such hitherto unthinkable coalition may seem, we have to be realistic.

  • Derrick Khoza says:

    @Whataboutboxer @ Lindy Gaye
    I disagree with the notion that says, Lamola is not familiar with a debate in is own organization. He is just exploiting the fact that the MPC is still debating issue within 2 months before the election, in front of an audience. Which was very good from him. And he pointed out, that the MPC doesn’t even have a leader @ this point in time. His putting doubts in people’s minds.

  • Rob Wilson says:

    Mashaba comes over as if he understands the gravity of the unemployment numbers and other main structural issues. Lamola sounds like he doesn’t have a clue. McKenzie? Well. There’s always one. Steenhuizen speaks sense. But who listened? I don’t think there were too many ANC supporters in the audience.

    • Gisele Orsmond says:

      What bothers me is that the younger generation just won’t bother to go and vote – who to vote for? And the older ones are still stuck in their loyalty mode

  • Claire Blackbeard says:

    Political party manifesto info

  • Stephen Mcbride says:

    At the root of the problem is CODESA which instituted a party electoral system.
    In this the majority of the people vote for a party with a manifesto that they have no need to follow and for people they do not know.
    What other method is there?
    Voting is done on a site level for your representative. Street or block level for where you live. Work place level. 1 person workplaces places in groups based on interest.
    These representatives then meet and get to know each other and elect someone for each industry / area / expertise.
    In this way each group is represented and have a voice and people are elected on their ability to get things done amongst people they know.
    They oversee and do not run the country. They agree who to employ for each job based on competence.
    Lots of details left out such as how do we keep the people up the line accountableas the further up you go the less they know each other. How do the grassroots vote in new people and show their disgust with how the higher ups running the country.
    How do you ensure that grassroots go for the bigger good and not personal gain.
    But anything has to be better than party politics

  • Rory Macnamara says:

    without trust this group is destined to fail. trust is about respect and the ability to listen and adapt, it is not about being friendly or buddy buddy. Mr mashaba you have just lost your group a vote.

  • Roelf Pretorius says:

    Well, I am happy to see the MPC taking each other on about the mess in the Gauteng metro’s, because all of them, and the ANC, EFF and PA, are co-responsible. The reason for the mess is the political instability that then also demoralizes the officials that have to deliver the services, especially as half of the political parties are more interested in looting and interfering in their (the officials’) jobs than service delivery. And maybe, in the process, the DA will at last get the message that in coalition politics they can’t act as if the smaller coalition partners are joining them. Maybe it should not be a surprise that Lamola was the one who kept his cool – after all he was the one person who actually has some experience in governing. So the person who, according to me, stands out in this crowd, at least measuring against what this article says, is Hlabisa, because he also seemed to keep his cool although he did NOT have Lamola’s experience. My only regret is that I was not able to attend virtually; there was some urgent matter that kept me going not just on Thursday, but it is still going on. Let us hope that some of these leaders will find each other, and that the EFF and MK will not be in government to steal what is left in SA.

  • Roelf Pretorius says:

    . . . Then also, I can’t agree more with Marianne that the younger, new politicians deserve a place at the table. I hope Zibi, Maimane & also Zackie Achmat and Lindiwe Mazibuko and Mbali Ntuli (I hope the last two are also standing) do well and bring the common sense into the debate in our politics that are seriously lacking. At the deputy presidents’ dialogue on coalitions, when I tried to speak common sense, I had to speak against continuous heckling from these politicians that don’t want new ideas or solutions – they only keep playing around with each other like there is no tomorrow and SA is fine because they are there. It is time that new political parties start to grow so we as voters have more options, and that all this old wood can be pushed out and consigned to the dustbin of history. Lastly, Gayton MacKenzie’s comment about Zuma that will be the wrecking ball of this election has far more merit than what some people will admit – far more merit than MacKenzie himself because the PA, along with the EFF, MK and the UDM are all choices that SA can’t afford in government. It is time that sober heads, like Lamola and Hlabisa, and these younger leaders, but also maybe the likes of Geordin Hill-Lewis and Chris Pappas, get considered more for national government than what is happening at the moment.

    • Allex Alexander says:

      Nobody has mentioned that the orginal inhabitants of this beautiful land were the Khoi-San and EVERYBODY else invaded and conquered – one from the NE, the other from the SW. Difference in invasions was a few hundred years – between 100 and 300 years, depending on your authority. We all ought to be grateful to live in this magnificent land and to share what is not in fact ours, but what we have stolen. The Khoi-San lived lightly off the land and hardly left a mark – unlike the rest of ALL of us.

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