Recent experiences with coalitions in South African metros indicate that opposition parties are facing challenges finding agreement on coalitions, raising concerns for the upcoming national and provincial elections. However, in an interview with Biznews, Freedom Front Plus leader, Dr Pieter Groenewald said political parties and voters are in a learning process. Groenewald also addresses concerns about trust and potential coalition partners, particularly highlighting the need for the DA to clarify its position on forming a coalition with the ANC. He also touches on the potential challenges of a white opposition leader becoming the President of South Africa and suggests the leader of the Inkatha Freedom Party, Velenkosini Hlabisa as a potential candidate for the presidency – Linda van Tilburg
There are 38 strong coalitions, we are on a learning curve
The Johannesburg Metro Coalition issue is bad. It is very detrimental to the perception of the functionality of coalitions, but we must also remember that there are 38 other coalitions that are very strong and really work. However, we must also understand that the ANC government knows that the coalition government is a threat to them and that they can lose their position as the government. Therefore, they will also do anything they can possibly do to derail coalitions among opposition parties. In Johannesburg, we had a situation where there were allegations that they actually bribed some councillors. The going rate was between R1 million and R2 million. But there is progress on coalitions. I am part of a group of political leaders who have meetings and we discuss how we can find common ground.
We must remember that in South Africa, coalitions are something new when it comes to politics. Since 1994, when we had the proportional electoral system set up, one of the strongest features of that system is the forming of coalitions. So, that is very important, and because of this it is a learning curve for the politicians as well as the electorate.
DA must undertake not to form a coalition with ANC
Unfortunately for the DA, they are on record stating that if the good guys win at the ANC conference in December last year, they will go into a coalition with them because they believe it is better to form a coalition between the ANC and the DA than with the ANC and the EFF. They used the EFF to create fear. We call it fear politics, and the DA will have to learn, as far as I’m concerned. You talk about trust. If the DA is willing to sign a document stating that they will not enter any form of coalition with the ANC after the election, then it is their responsibility to keep to that. I can assure you that if they do not comply with that after the election, the electorate will deal with them in the election after 2024, the 2029 election. So, I will be satisfied if they sign such a document, an agreement, a memorandum of understanding, call it whatever you want.
Forget about a white President
I don’t think it should be a white man. I’m on record in the media in South Africa where I said it doesn’t mean that the strongest political party in the coalition leader is necessarily the president. We must get a competent person. I am very realistic. I said I’m not politically correct. If you want the voters from the ANC to get away from the ANC, you’re not going to get them away with a white potential president. It’s a fact. People normally shy away from race in South Africa. Race plays a very important role in South Africa. And yes, I was strongly criticised because I said that, but I keep my view on that… If a white is the leader of the strongest opposition party, let’s take John Steenhuisen, if they are forming a coalition, he’s going to be the president. Then of course, what the ANC is going to say, oh, you’re now going back to apartheid. And they use a term they call it ‘baas’ which means boss. They say, are you going to vote for the baas again? I know they do it because people speak to me, they talk to me. Therefore, I already said that and in the coalition negotiations, I already said, Well, you may differ from me, but if you want to get the votes from the ANC, forget about a white president.
Velenkosini Hlabisa for President
There are competent leaders from the other political parties. Let’s take, for instance, I personally at this moment think that the honourable Hlabisi, the leader of the Inkatha Freedom Party, is an intelligent man and he’s a good candidate for president in South Africa. So, there are other leaders that can be a good president in South Africa.
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