A group of South African opposition parties have signed a coalition pact ahead of next year’s elections and promised the electorate an “alternative government”.
Seven political parties signed an agreement ahead of the 2024 national election, they pledged to work together to unseat the African National Congress (ANC) and keep the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) out of power.
Party leaders labelled the two-day negotiations held at Emperors Palace in Kempton Park a “great success” as it resulted in the signing of acommon declaration labelled theMulti-Party Charter for South Africa.
This pre-emptive formation hopes to avoid the chaos seen in municipal coalitions across the country.
“If we want to unseat the ANC as a government then there is no other option because there is no single opposition party who on their own will get a majority [of the vote]… we must ensure that we work together [so] that we have a stable coalition,” said Vryheidsfront (VF+) leader Dr Pieter Groenewald.
The DA, IFP, VF+, ActionSA, Independent South African National Organisation (Isanco), United Independent Movement (UIM) and the Spectrum National Party (SNP) agree that this, “alternative government” as IFP president Velenkosini Hlabisa put it, would be one that promotes a free-market economy, decentralised power and minimal government interference in business.
Hlabisa argued that the bloc would be decisive on matters of “crime, unemployment, loadshedding…” because the “current government has failed us”.
No red and yellow here
Parties are open to broadening the pool of partners in the months to come if they share their governing priorities and values.
Leader of ActionSA Herman Mashaba said that they ruled out any possible working agreements with the third largest party, the EFF because of fundamental ideological differences as they are a party who are self-described as following a Marxist-Leninist school of thought.
When asked if this agreement would push the ANC and EFF to form a coalition agreement of their own, parties shrugged it off, and Mashaba said, “they can do what they want”.
In response, EFF spokesperson Leigh-Ann Mathys told Wits Vuvuzela that the issues parties want to solve (like unemployment and poverty) are the same, however, their approaches are fundamentally and ideologically different. “We are unapologetically a leftist party [and are] willing to work with parties who would implement similar ideological policies,” said Mathys.
Who rules the roost?
The bloc is in agreement that power would be shared, relative to the proportion of votes counted. The party with the most votes was promised the position of deputy president.
But these candidates have not yet been chosen, Hlabisa said that deciding on a candidate before the elections would “give an unfair advantage to that party.”
Given the highly publicised squabbles amongst party leaders, a professor at the Wits School of Governance and independent chairperson of the convention, William Gumede, said that “[party leaders must] rise above petty squabbles, egos and every decision they make must be in the public interest.”
The ANC lost its overall majority for the first time in the country’s democratic history in the 2021 municipal elections, which gave rise to the idea that no political party will achieve an outright majority alone to govern, following 2024’s elections.
Parties argued that by setting the terms now (should they come to power) they are not left scrambling in the 14 days after the elections to form a united government.
FEATURED IMAGE: A collage of all of the party leaders of the multi-party charter during the closing remarks of the two-day conference at Emperors Palace on August 17, 2023. Photos: Seth Thorne
WORLD DOMINATION: Small parties of the Collective Democracy conglomerate, are gearing up for a “radical change” in government that is accountable and transparent, come May 7. Pictured from left are Mkhuleko Hlengwa (IFP), Forouk Kassim (Cope) and Bantu Holomisa (UDM) Photo: Nqobile Dludla
By Anazi Zote and Lameez Omarjee
A ‘quality over quantity’ government was the unanimous call of the three political parties represented at the Great Debate (#witsdebate) held last night on the Wits education campus in Parktown.
“[It is] not about numbers, [but rather] about quality that counts in the politics of a (our) country… Look at the numbers of big parties, they can’t even deal with their corrupt president,” said Holomisa.
In the same voice, defending their party size, Cassim, of the still relatively new COPE party, said: “We may be small in size, but not in vigour and voice. In vigour and voice we are powerful, the country hears us”.
“Whether we get the numbers or not, the IFP is here to serve … the populist agenda, which the main party is relying on, is going to be broken,” added Hlengwa.
Cassim told Wits Vuvuzela, “Mass parties world-wide are going to be extinct, they are going to be of no value because the trend of the future will be smaller parties … acting as conglomerates.”
Hlengwa emphasised that opposition parties did not exist simply to oppose but to constructively create progress. He told Wits Vuvuzela that “if you criticise for the sake of criticising, then there will be no progress”.
All three parties echoed the sentiment of having an accountable and transparent government for the benefit of all South Africans. “In the past five years, there has been a lack of accountability and responsibility,” said Hlengwa.
[pullquote]“This is no longer a democracy, it is a demo-crazy”[/pullquote]
Holomisa warned South Africans not to follow the footsteps of a corrupt government because it will collapse. Small parties have a role to play in ensuring that there is no corrupt governance. “If we are quiet and we don’t expose these things, then we will be like other countries in the continent,” said Holomisa.
He also blamed the lack of votes for small parties on the misuse of government resources by the African National Congress (ANC), which relies heavily on the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) to be its [the ANC’s] mouthpiece. “
This is no longer a democracy, it is a demo-crazy,” he said. The final installation of the Wits Great Debate happens next week Thursday and speakers are still to be announced.
IPF members march to the SABC stations in Auckland Park in protest of ‘bias and anit-IFP broadcasting’, September 14.
By Jay CabozAround 1500 supporters, mainly from the Inkhatha Freedom Party (IFP), blocked traffic as they made their way to the South African Broadcasting Station (SABC) in a mass protest for fairness from the public broadcaster.
Mungosuthu Buthelezi, head of the IFP, led the large gathering of supporters through Johannesburg CBD to the entrance of the SABC Studios in Auckland Park on Friday September 14.
The IFP leader noted that this was “a matter which goes to the heart of how the citizens of this country can freely make up their own minds as to whom they wish to govern them”.
“South Africans must demand of their public broadcaster that they be treated with respect and not force-fed and manipulated with political propaganda.”
Supporters sported bottles, knobkerries and shields as they made their way along Enoch Sontonga Avenue alongside the University of the Witwatersrand.
One supporter said they were marching to express their outrage that Julius Malema had been banned by the SABC. Another said the media only chose to report their (IFP) actions when they ‘made noise with the ANC’ so they were making some.
Buthelezi addressed the crowd and said that bias within the SABC was not surprising.
“Since 1994, the ANC in Parliament has hand-picked every SABC board member, and the ANC has had the final say in the appointment of all executive officers of the SABC. Thus political interference has been built into the system and ruthlessly exploited by the ANC-alliance.”
“For years, the IFP has continuously engaged the SABC over its anti-IFP coverage and the way in which opposition parties are not fairly represented on all of the public broadcaster’s radio and television channels. This year, for example, two of the IFP’s three major events – its Freedom Day and Women’s Day rally – did not receive TV coverage at all. This is coupled with anti-IFP programmes that have been aired, such as The Bang Bang Club.”
A memorandum was handed over to by the IFP outside the SABC station in Auckland Park without incident.