Coalition government on the cards for 2019
Opposition parties should prepare themselves for more power following the elections in 2019, but should also realise that the ANC is bound to put up a fight.
tresultshe of the recent municipal elections confirmed not only the dilemma the South African electorate is faced with, but also its dissatisfaction with the corruption off-ramp the ruling ANC has evidently taken. The results also indicated, for the first time since the dawn of local democracy, that it is possible for the ANC to lose an election to the opposition.
Since 1994 the ANC has dominated South African politics with a huge electoral majority. However, the electorate appears to have drawn a line in the sand with the last election, resulting in the ruling party suffering huge declines in support in Nelson Mandela Bay, Tshwane and Johannesburg. These metros, now led by the DA in coalition with other opposition parties, have a combined budget of almost R100bn.
The dilemma that faced the electorate was having to choose between the arrogance and corruption of the ANC, the perceived racism of the DA and the buffoonery of the EFF. The dilemma is evident in that no single party enjoyed an outright majority in the leading metros and that about 3m voters decided to stay away from the polls.
Nevertheless, the DA increased its support substantially from a meagre 16.2% in 2006 to 23.9% in 2011, to 27.1% in 2016. On the other hand, the ANC’s support declined from 64.8% in 2006 to 61.9% in 2011, to 54% in 2016.
Much of the lost support is of course because of the ANC’s own doing. Its scandal-ridden president, Jacob Zuma, is yet to have his day in court to answer to 783 possible charges, including corruption, racketeering and money laundering. This, in addition to the misuse of public money to upgrade Zuma’s Nkandla homestead, as well as the close business ties his children enjoy with the Gupta family, has caused many South Africans to desert the ruling party, but some are still unsure as to which political party to lend support to. With Guptagate and the allegations of state capture, the electorate appears to be awakening to the fact that SA is being run by something more resembling of a criminal syndicate than a government.
The result is that the country may likely be under a coalition government led by the DA as soon as 2019. For that to happen, the DA has to draw lessons from the ailing ANC and to look further north and learn from Robert Mugabe’s Zanu-PF.
As a party that is still largely regarded as white in a country where the political enterprise is still split mainly across racial lines, the DA needs to reach out to blacks who still largely carry scars from the past. The transformation the DA has undergone in the past few years with Mmusi Maimane at the helm is significant and helped it reach the current milestone. However, the DA needs to thoroughly deal with the perception that it is a racist party of white privilege by utilising its new-found status as a ruling party in municipalities to deliver the much-needed services in poorer communities. But more importantly, it has to maintain its status as a party that is anticorruption and with municipal budgets of over R100bn at its disposal, it has to make a difference in people’s lives.
Zanu-PF has led Zimbabwe since independence in 1980. Like the ANC, it has lost significant voter support in metro areas such as Bulawayo and Harare. It however remains a party in power in Zimbabwe as a result of the rural vote. The DA, the EFF and many other opposition parties have to move their campaigns from the cosmopolitan areas where the electorate can easily see through the ruling party’s gaffes to the rural areas, where the many unwashed live.
On the other hand, the EFF would need to limit its buffoonery in order to increase its numbers in the next election. The ruling party’s continued support for Zuma has already done much ground work to build support for opposition parties, and civil society is also increasingly critical about the direction of SA under his leadership.
The “Save South Africa” coalition, which comprises of prominent South Africans, the clergy, ANC stalwarts and other concerned citizens and organisations, is a sure sign that the ground is fertile for an opposition takeover. The divisions in the ruling party over the incumbent‘s leadership are the other signs of a party about to fall from grace.
But, with all that, the opposition needs to fix its house and be ready for a coalition come 2019. As desperate times often call for desperate measures, the opposition has to be ready for more tricks from the ruling party as it would not simply hand over the country on a silver platter. It is the last kicks of a dying horse that are often said to be the most dangerous!
For that to happen, the DA has to draw lessons from the ailing ANC and to look further north and learn from Robert Mugabe’s
President Robert Mugabe