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Coalition government can be a good thing for South Africa : Political analyst Michael Atkins

Sameera Casmod |
04 June 2024 | 13:01 SAST
2-minute read

Image: Campaign photos for the 2024 general election
Radio Islam International / Sameera Casmod

Allegations of corruption and bias have been levelled at the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) in the aftermath of last Wednesday’s election, raising concerns over the accuracy of results and the electoral process as a whole.

Michael Atkins, an independent political analyst, said that the major allegations of bias and corruption lack evidence and the IEC has resolved the objections submitted by political parties over the weekend.

Atkins added that further investigation is necessary to address “concerns over the small-scale accuracy of [election] results or processes.”

The election results have dealt a significant blow to major political parties, opening the door to the coalition politics that were so heavily discussed in the run-up to the polls.

Some analysts view this as a potential catalyst for positive change, positing that the reduced dominance of a single party can foster more inclusive and representative governance in the long term.

“Our electoral system, a proportional representation system, lends itself more to a coalition arrangement,” Atkins noted, adding that he takes “the view that South Africans, when we get down to talk to each other across divides… we can make things work.”

Atkins explained the process of forming a government:

  • Parliament will convene within two weeks, led by the Chief Justice.
  • A speaker will be elected, followed by the president.
  • The president will be elected by a majority of votes cast in parliament. If no candidate secures the majority, the candidate with the fewest votes is eliminated, and the vote is rerun until a majority is achieved.

If coalition agreements are not reached, a minority government might be formed. While legally viable, such a government could be vulnerable to motions of no confidence, Atkins said.

Alternatively, a coalition involving the ANC, EFF, and one or two other smaller parties is viable, based on the percentage of votes the two major parties received. Additionally, an ANC-MK coalition would be stable, based on their performance in the election, Atkins said, and added that another feasible agreement is one between the MK and DA.

A government of national unity is no longer a legal option, Atkins said, and he added that an inclusive government will have far fewer political consequences for the ANC and its major opposition, the DA.

Despite expectations of a high turnout due to the contested nature of the election, voter participation was low. Atkins said there are many factors that could have contributed to this, but there is currently no concrete data to explain it.

Listen to the full interview on Sabaahul Muslim with Moulana Sulaimaan Ravat here.


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