Composition of coalition “pact” government on the agenda at historic national convention

Opposition party leaders gathering at next month’s national convention will aim to agree how the coalition would constitute a “pact” government. This emerges from an interview with Dr Leon Schreiber, the Democratic Alliance’s (DA’s) Shadow Minister of Public Service and Administration. Also on the agenda will be a minimum programme that, should a government be constituted out of this pact, it would be looking to implement. That would be a set of policy solutions to the five or ten biggest problems in South Africa. Meanwhile, one or two more parties may still join the six already involved: those being the DA, the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP), the Freedom Front Plus (FF+), Action SA, the United Independent Movement (UIM), and the Spectrum National Party. Parties that are not part of the pact process include GOOD, the Patriotic Alliance (PA), and Al Jama-Ah. – Chris Steyn

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Relevant timestamps from the interview

  • 00:10 – Introductions 
  • 00:29 – Leon Schreiber on how many opposition party leaders are attending the national convention
  • 01:03 – If all the potentially alliance opposition parties invited or not everybody
  • 03:39 – Finding coalition partner you can trust
  • 06:57 – If a final agenda for discussion has been drawn up yet 
  • 09:35 – Percentage of the vote coalition bloc could hope to get
  • 12:25 – On if there’s an uptick of new voters 
  • 14:35 – On the chances the ANC fares badly in the elections that it has to choose a coalition partner from the “pact” to stay in government
  • 16:57 – Conclusions

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Highlights from the interview

Opposition party leaders gathering at next month’s historic national convention will aim to agree how the coalition would constitute a “pact” government.

That has emerged from an interview with Dr Leon Schreiber, the Democratic Alliance’s (DA’s) Shadow Minister of Public Service and Administration.

He tells BizNews that the pact would have only two weeks to negotiate a coalition government after the 2024 election.  

“That is an impossible deadline to impose on a political process. So…we are seeking to essentially front load the negotiations. We want to see what we can agree on ahead of the election so that when that moment comes to form a coalition government, we’re actually in a position with a head start essentially to then tackle the remaining issues in those two weeks.

Read more: Joburg’s collapse of anti-ANC Moonshot Pact – “dit loop kak”, but insider Cronje provides context, offers hope

“In other words, it’s a formula that could be adopted before the election result is known, which theoretically would make it a little bit easier after the election, because it’s something that was agreed upon ahead of time before we knew exactly how the dice would fall.”

In addition to shared values and principles, also on the agenda will be a minimum programme that, should a government be constituted out of this pact, it would be looking to implement. That would be a “certain set of policy solutions to the five or ten biggest problems” in South Africa.  

“…I think it is important for that minimum programme to give voters the confidence that this is not something that is just being done as an anti-ANC (African National Congress) project, but that it actually can address the issues that matter to them.”

Meanwhile, one of two more parties may still join the six already involved: those being the DA, the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP), the Freedom Front Plus (FF+), Action SA, the United Independent Movement (UIM), and the Spectrum National Party. 

As for the parties that are not part of the process, Dr Schreiber says: “So obviously where you have parties that would be working with the ANC or that are mired in corruption allegations, for example, those are parties that would not actually be providing an alternative to the ANC. And in many cases, we regard them as actually being alternative versions of the ANC. And so there are a couple of parties…You can think about GOOD, for example, the Patriotic Alliance (PA), Al Jama-Ah…”

Read more: Coalition talks collapse in Johannesburg as Action SA blames DA for shattering its own Moonshot Pact

Asked what percentage of the vote the pact hopes to get, Dr Schreiber says: “In the 2021 election, the group of parties currently involved in this process got about 35% of the vote. So we would need to grow by 15 percentage points…So instead of fighting each other, we all need to go out and find ways of growing so that we can collectively get to the 15%.

“…at the moment, the numbers we have or are working with is about 14 million not registered and another 13 million who are registered but who didn’t vote in 2021. So that brings us actually to a potential pool of 27 million voters. Now, if you take into account the fact that the ANC in 2021 got only 5.3 million votes, then you start to see the potential of this project because if we can get even 10% or maybe 20% of that 27 million to actually come out and support this project, then we will be well on our way to actually beating the ANC.”

As for the position of the coalition pact if it didn’t get 51% of the vote and the ANC does so badly at the polls that it has to choose between the pact and the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) for a coalition partner to stay in government, Dr Schreiber says: “… to answer the question of that hypothetical scenario, I think it’s really important at that stage that we go back to the voters. Because what we are saying to voters with this pact is that this is the DA’s first choice. And this is the first choice, and really the only choice, for every party involved in this project. We want to bring this alternative government into being next year. We don’t want to work with ANC, we don’t want to work with the EFF. We’ve been absolutely clear about that.

Read more: Cronje: Voters say DA’s W Cape template shining ever brighter; Great AGOA news

“If voters don’t actually make that possible, in other words, if voters don’t come out in such numbers that we get the 50% plus one…I think it’s really something we will have to take back to the voters and say to them, our first choice was clear. It hasn’t happened that way. Now we need voters to actually tell us what the next best or possibly least worst alternative will be. 

“So that is really a commitment that from the DA side we will make very clear upfront that if this pact does not get where we want it to get, we will go back to the voters, we will consult with the people of South Africa and essentially get direction from them. Do they want an ANC-EFF government? Do they want negotiations with parties outside of the pact?”

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