With over 68 hung councils resulting from South Africa’s most recent local government election, coalition building and coalition processes are seen as being very influential in shaping the country’s short to medium term trajectory. Learning from the unstable coalitions resulting from the most recent 2016 poll, political parties have begun conceptualising methods of institutionalising and formalising possible coalition agreements, declaring so called uncompromisable principles, vowing to make agreements public, with some even advocating regularisation. However, despite this, parties such as the DA, ActionSA, IFP, and even partially the ANC, have already staked positions opposing coalition building with certain parties, fearing it would dampen their future electoral chances. This is despite historic coalition agreements, between the IFP and ANC for example, which was able to govern KZN, with varying levels of stability.
Speaking to Radio Islam International, Dr Ntsikkilelo Breakfast, argued that our constitution has not been equipped enough to deal with coalitions; it does not have deadlock breaking mechanisms and/or means of ensuring voter accountability. Breakfast lamented these coalitions of spite, arguing that coalitions aimed at keeping a specific party out, rather than on the bases of a common programme, will actually impede service delivery and the voters in spite the fact that the ANC may have run many of these dysfunctional, now hung, municipalities.
Dr Breakfast argued that even were new elections to occur, the results would be much the same, saying, “my prediction is that even if we’re going to have a return, I can bet my bottom dollar, the results would be the same, because it looks like one party dominance is a theme of the past and coalition formations are, in a single-sense, the future. “
If elections could not be concluded in 40 days, Dr Breakfast argued that bi-elections would then have to be organised. This, Breakfast, argued, would be inhibiting to service delivery provision. It is also noteworthy that South Africa historically, and in contemporary times, has not been governed by coalitions, which Dr Breakfast alluded to, is an idea transposed from Europe.