The simple definition of coalition government is a marriage of convenience between two or more political parties to form a governing body. By any definition, it involves a compromise of ideological positions and principles between multiple political parties in a desperate bid to form government where none of them could achieve an outright majority in the parliament. In a political system where political parties lure electorates on the basis of ideologies, such an arrangement does not only amount to opportunistic betrayal of the masses, but it is also inherently prone to instability given the extreme divergence of policy positions between the official opposition party Democratic Alliance and the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) which is the third largest party while others do not have clear political programmes other than jumping on the anti-President Jacob Zuma bandwagon.
It is within the above context that by their nature coalitions of all kinds are based on problematic grounds and they become more prone to disintegration before take-off if the primary principle that sustain political parties together is based on the belief that the “enemy of my enemy is my friend” rather than the convergence of views.
The August 2016 local government election results occasioned coalition governments between the DA and EFF and other smaller parties in various municipalities including three metros (Tshwane, City of Johannesburg and Nelson Mandela Bay) irrespective of their diametrically opposed views in terms of the country’s macro-economic policy or the direction that should be taken for the development and prosperity of the country.
Based on the cobbled together coalitions which are often operating under serious threats of disintegration, the leaders of these political parties under an umbrella body Freedom Movement seem to have been persuaded that coalition government is the panacea of all our problems after the 2019 national elections. The ambitious and self-proclaimed leader of this newly formed movement, General Bantu Holomisa of the UDM and others could not hide their excitement about the turnout in its first major event during Freedom Day on 27 April 2017 when they naively concluded that that could translate to solutions of our current socio-economic challenges through the formation of a coalition government after the 2019 elections. For starters, these bedfellows are not honest and are not telling the truth to the country that they are struggling to keep their coalition government together in the Nelson Mandela Bay Metro while the political novice “Donald Trump” like Herman Mashaba, DA Mayor in the City of Johannesburg is constantly under pressure and always made by the populist EFF members to rescind his decisions.
The DA could also attest to the difficulties of sustaining a coalition government at the expense of service delivery, after March 2006 local government elections. Therefore, it is disingenuous for Mmusi Maimane to believe that coalition government is the appropriate intervention to solve the country’s problems of junk status and recession which at most require clear fiscal policy direction and political stability. Based on experience a coalition government cannot provide the required stability for the development of the country even at local government level where it should be easy to reach consensus on service delivery issues such as sanitation, water and electricity vis-à-vis complex national policy issues such as the economic system on which EFF and DA are diametrically opposed.
How can then, this newly found love, assist the country bring about the much needed policy cohesion and stability without getting at each other’s throats and threats of desertions which breed policy and political uncertainty. To this end, the unsuspecting electorates need to be told that a coalition government is not only a betrayal of their votes which are based on the manifestos of the different political parties but it is also a threat to economic recovery of this country, should the ANC achieve less than 50% performance during the imminent national government elections. The only thing that keeps the opposition parties together is their fight for the removal of President Jacob Zuma, giving a new meaning to the adage that “enemy of my enemy is my friend”. DM
In other news...
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