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Whatever the coalition is formed, SA will triumph

AS South Africa stands at a political T-junction, figuring which way to go, many such as the DA’s leader John Steenhuisen dread a “doomsday coalition” whilst hordes of ordinary folks express cautious optimism.

South Africa has never been here before. This is indeed unchartered territory, laced with uncertainty, trepidation as well as hope.

For the first time since the dawn of democracy in April 1994, the electorate has ordered the political elite to share power at national level. After 30 years of solitary governance, the ANC has been given what in football can be described as a yellow card. It’s a serious warning.

A second yellow card will automatically translate into a red card, which will mark the end of the ANC as a partner in the governance of the country.

In the same vein, the electorate could find no automatic replacement for the ANC. In fact, no party polled more than the ANC at 40%, giving Mandela’s party some 159 seats in parliament, the biggest any party could garner.

The DA did well retaining the second spot, whilst new kids on the block, former President Jacob Zuma’s Umkhonto we Sizwe Party replaced the EFF on the third spot. It is worth mentioning that the party of the later Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi secured the fifth sport, behind Julius Malema’s leftist EFF.

That, in short, is the new face of our country’s political landscape. Down the line, thirteen other parties complete the total of 18 that made it to parliament. Gayton McKenzie’s Patriotic Alliance and Herman Mashaba’s Action SA are on six seats each, not a bad showing for relative newcomers at national. Additionally, Musi Maimane’s BOSA, the PAC, UDM, Good Party and Rise Mzansi are some of the parties that made it into parly with either one or two seats. It is commendable. Mark you, 52 parties contested, and 34 couldn’t make it.

But now, it is no longer about the past. It is about the here and now, the multi-party coalition talks that are underway across the length and breadth of the country. The big question is: Who is going into bed with whom?

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As for the ruling party (well, until now), the ANC, methinks the movement is caught between a rock and a hard place. From the outset, the ANC’s alliance trusted alliance partners, the SACP and COSATU, have publicly warned President Cyril Ramaphosa’s party against flirting, let alone tying the knot with the DA.

This is a significant development. The ANC, the so-called broad-based church, is traditionally market-friendly. A coalition between the ANC and the DA, we are told, is what big business desires. Additionally, the DA itself has already made it known that it would rather form a government with the ANC if that would thwart a “doomsday coalition” comprising the ANC, EFF and MK.

This poses a major conundrum for Luthuli House. Just on their own, the ANC and DA can successfully form a government. Together, the two parties account for at least 62% of the votes. But then again, as the left of the ANC has already shown, it is easier said than done.

President Ramaphosa can, by all accounts, not risk the disintegration of the ANC by embracing a party the ANC alliance partners describe as “anti-workers, racist”, and all other unsavoury names.

That could trigger the ideological split. If that were to happen, it would be the first ideological split since the PAC’s break-away led by Robert Sobukwe in 1959. The subsequent splits first by the UDM, then COPE, the EFF and now the MK, are markedly factional in character.

The coalition between the ANC and EFF for not going over the 50-plus one line. They would need the IFP, or the PA to sit pretty. The PA’s demand, made in advance, is to be entrusted with the Department of Home Affairs. The PA believes that all illegal foreigners must be bussed out of the country en masse.
“Mabahambe” (let me go) is the party’s regular cry. It is a cry that is at odds with the ANC’s view of the continent in particular, a continent that the ANC called “home” during the many decades of exile whilst fighting to topple apartheid.

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It is quite difficult to figure out who will eventually form a partnership with, and on what terms. Discussions are still in the early days, but the parties – all of them – have only a fortnight to find each other.
And then, as for the DA’s ludicrous description of the ANC, EFF and MK potential cooperation as a “doomsday coalition”. How ridiculous can the DA be?

I mean, ideologically, there is more in common between the parties than there is between the DA and the ANC. Granted, the conflictual policy standpoint of the leftist parties can be a major sticking point. One of the EFF’s seven cardinal pillars is that of land redistribution without compensation.

The ANC does not share this standpoint. And then, the MK Party wants to abolish the current constitution as it stands. There may be a few points of difference, but they are of great significance as they are potential deal-breakers. But the argument of a “doomsday coalition” by the DA cannot be left unchallenged, and I am one of the millions who are happy to take umbrage with.
For, the three “doomsday” parties are perfectly capable of governing the country. With their pro-poor agenda, they will represent the interests and aspirations of the vast majority of South Africans who endorsed them on May 29.

The electorate is crying out for transformation, access to business opportunities, improved life chances and a general upliftment in the standard of living. The majority of the DA voters do not wallow in poverty. And if the markets, or big business, believe in democratic dispensation, they should support the will of the expressed will of the people.

And as for the DA they could be left of any possible coalition, the party will have to cooperate with whatever a legitimate administration and play the role of a meaningful opposition in parliament, serving the mandate of the just over 20% of the voters that voted for the party that “predominantly black leftist parties” regard as a custodian of white monopoly capital.

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But political differences should, in my view, never be accentuated to a point where they overshadow an avalanche of opportunities located in the strength that characterises our diversity.

All of the eighteen political parties have an equally important role to play in the makeup of our new administration, regardless of their size or ideology. Differences of opinion can be a strength, instead of a weakness. Where we can’t find each other, we should simply agree to disagree. That is a sign of political maturity. If the 18 parties can work together in the knowledge that they ought to put the interest of South Africa ahead of anything else, they would be serving the entire electorate with aplomb.

As Steve Biko so eloquently put it, “There would be a place for all of us at the rendezvous of victory”.
The majority of us do not have two passports. If we can’t build our nation into one of the best in the world, we will be doomed. Failure to work together for the common good of SA is tantamount to self-harm. We escaped the worst hurdle in 1994 when the risk of racial conflict was sky-high.

We can do it once again this time. When we work together as a country, nothing is impossible to achieve. Whatever a coalition government is going to be formed at the end of inter-party negotiations currently underway, there should be no doubt that SA will move forward. Yes, the ride could be bumpy. But then again, no one said it would be easy.

*Makoe is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief: Global South Media Network

By ABBEY MAKOE

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