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Coalition conundrum: What’s needed to ensure a stable coalition government? Politicians give us their views  

South Africa should really be no stranger to coalition governments. It was part of our democratic make-up in 1994 when the first government was one made up of a coalition. 

The DA managed to capture the Western Cape in 2006, using the tool of coalition government, and grew its base from there. But the rest of the country was only exposed to the phenomenon in 2016 when coalition governments were set up in Nelson Mandela Bay, Tshwane and Johannesburg. Five years of minority government in those three municipalities didn’t result in a good story to tell.   

Last week’s Friday Briefing, with analyst Mike Law, examined the future of coalition governments in light of developments in Nelson Mandela Bay, Tshwane and Johannesburg. His view is that due to expected low voter turnout, and political parties entering the elections from a weakened position, we are likely to see even more coalition governments in our municipalities around the country. 

As a follow up for this week’s Friday Briefing, we decided to approach leaders to get their views on the future of coalitions. 

Both the Chief Activist of the One South Africa Movement (OSA), Mmusi Maimane, and GOOD leader Patricia de Lille agree – coalitions are here to stay. Both leaders have experience of being involved in coalitions – and give reasons why it hasn’t previously worked in South Africa and what needs to be done in order to ensure stability in a minority government. ActionSA’s Herman Mashaba writes that while his party doesn’t really want to go into a coalition, it is ready to do so, as he has been a coalition alliance before. 

Meanwhile, UDM leader Bantu Holomisa sat down with News24’s James de Villiers. Holomisa told De Villiers there was a need for  guidelines to be gazetted by the government, to guide people, to explain the meaning of the coalition and the behaviour of those in the coalition.

Hope you have a good weekend. 


Vanessa Banton

Opinions editor

Coalitions are the future. Best we make them work for all

Mmusi Maimane argues that the current party-political model hasn’t worked in South Africa to date, and it won’t work in the future because there is no perfect government within one political party. He explains why he views coalition politics as the way forward.

Coalitions can work, but only if people’s welfare comes before that of parties

For governing coalitions to succeed, it requires a level of political maturity, compromise, concession and tolerance of alternative views, writes Patricia de Lille.

Governing Alliances: Residents first, politics second

There should be accountabilty from within, if political parties enter into a coalition, and politics must come second, writes Herman Mashaba.

Q&A | UDM leader Bantu Holomisa: We need gazetted guidelines to improve coalitions in SA 

James de Villiers speaks to UDM leader Bantu Holomisa, whose party has been involved in coalitions in Cape Town and Gqeberha, about what is needed to stabilise coalitions in South Africa moving forward. 


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