South Africa’s estimated 13 million unregistered voters hold the power to change South Africa’s future as the kingmakers in next year’s watershed national elections. This emerges from an interview with Werner Horn, the Democratic Alliance’s (DA’s) member on the Party Liaison Committee of the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC). He tells BizNews why the votes of new voters are needed by “coalition” parties to surge past an estimated 40% of the vote to build a strong post-election pact for an “alternative” government. Horn also speaks about the “massive instability” that has been created by coalitions-gone-wrong in big Metros – and says the DA and the ANC are in agreement that strict coalition, management, legislation and institutions are needed. – Chris Steyn
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Relevant timestamps from the interview
- 00:29 – Werner Horn on if one vote matters
- 04:44 – The latest registration figures
- 08:05 – Importance of voting in the age of coalitions
- 16:26 – If political parties engage with the IEC to prevent system failures like the one in 2021
- 21:53 – On the dirty nature of politics
- 24:35 – Conclusion
Highlights from the interview
South Africa’s estimated 13 million unregistered voters can be the kingmakers in next year’s watershed national elections – and change the future of the country.
This emerges from an interview with Werner Horn, the Democratic Alliance’s (DA’s) member on the Party Liaison Committee of the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC).
He tells BizNews why the votes of new voters are needed by “coalition” parties to surge past an estimated 40% of the vote to build a strong post-election pact for an “alternative” government.
“…we know many voters have that sentiment that their vote won’t make a difference because they can’t see beyond the fact that the ANC has had a hegemonic hold on electoral outcomes since 1994…(but) it’s quite clear that if enough people registered to vote…it can have a material and a substantive impact on the outcome,” says Horn.
With the “Moonshot Pact”, “the reality is…that even if you add up the historical support levels of all of those parties who broadly agree about the way forward, you won’t get to much more than 35% of the vote, if you take local government election outcomes, maybe 40% of the vote…
“So in that sense, to build a coalition that can unseat the ANC (African National Congress), of course, votes will need to be added.”
Horn has this message for those who share the sentiment of those parties: “For you, in 2024, to not register, or if you’re registered to stay home, will be as good really as saying that you’re satisfied with the status quo.”
However, Horn warns voters against voting for small parties whose representatives could become “turncoats” – and may not be dependable in coalitions in the long run.
He says there are “warning signs” in what has happened in some local government elections; as well as in the “massive instability we’ve seen in places like Johannesburg, to a lesser extent, Tshwane and also Nelson Mandela Bay, where there was a proliferation of small parties…”
Many of these smaller parties in councils as big as Jo’burg and Tshwane…ended up holding one or two seats, but were “ultimately then placed by voters in that position of being, what I think is called globally, the kingmakers”.
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Describing the double-edged dilemma of coalitions, Horns says: “It’s one thing to wrestle in the mud with those who’s broadly aligned with your values and principles if their internal democracy and their internal governance structures are at least something that enables you to ultimately, while grinding your teeth, go forward.
“The difficulty with many of these smaller parties is that very soon after the election, also because they didn’t perform the way they dreamt when they set up these smaller parties…Now you have one or two councillors in council, but outside of council are four and five or six other members who believe they should be there, and then because you don’t have a strong internal democracy, congresses are called, people are being recalled. Chaos ultimately ensues and uncertainty as to who can represent those parties in council.
“So that’s specifically playing out, I believe at the moment, in Nelson Mandela Bay, where previously our Mayor, Retief Odendaal, governed on the, I want to say on the back of a nine- or ten-party coalition, and then one or two of those very small parties very soon fell into this type of instability, internal chaos, where the courts ultimately in the months to come will decide who’s really in control of that party and that will ultimately determine whether that specific party still wants to be part of a coalition with the DA versus the ANC.
“So one would think that in a democracy, voters in the run up to 2024, must hopefully go to school on what happened when they lent their votes to these parties who ultimately turn out to be turncoats and not to be not dependable in terms of representing interests in council.”
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