De Beer on the power-hungry scramble for SA & the ports of KZN

United Independent Movement (UIM) President Neil de Beer has slammed the ongoing power-hungry coalition talks in which the ruling African National Congress  (ANC) is “not negotiating to stay in power”, but “negotiating to survive”. He also decries outrageous demands from possible coalition partners, and warns: “When you are sitting at a table, you shouldn’t be picking out what you want. You should be doing the best for the country. And what we’ve got now is the actual appearance of those people who are picking and choosing. And they are actually causing that a Government of National Unity is not going to make it in the long run…” He further warns about looming “economic battle lines” in a country not dominated by a single party, but in which provinces are going into coalitions to become independent for political control that will give them power over some of the most important infrastructure of the economy, like the ports of KZN. Meanwhile, De Beer is already lining up candidates to stand in every one of the 270 odd municipalities in the 2026 municipal elections “to ensure there’s accountability” and that bread-and-butter issues are dealt with – regardless of what happens at national level.

Sign up for your early morning brew of the BizNews Insider to keep you up to speed with the content that matters. The newsletter will land in your inbox at 5:30am weekdays. Register here.

Watch here

Listen here

Highlights from the interview

Neil de Beer, President of the United Independent Movement (UIM), spoke with Chris Steyn about the ongoing political developments in South Africa as the nation anticipates the formation of a Government of National Unity. De Beer detailed the UIM’s recent departure from the Multi-Party Charter (MPC), emphasizing the importance of keeping political promises. He criticized the potential coalition with the African National Congress (ANC) and highlighted the internal factional battles within major political parties like the ANC, DA, and EFF.

De Beer expressed concern over the current state of coalition negotiations, describing them as a “Doomsday Coalition” that threatens the country’s economic stability. He noted that South Africa is at a critical juncture, with choices between free-market capitalism and socialist, labour union-driven policies. The ANC, according to de Beer, is negotiating not to maintain power but to survive.

He also discussed the international apprehension regarding South Africa’s political stability and its impact on foreign direct investment (FDI). De Beer mentioned that investors are cautious and are increasingly favouring the Western Cape due to its relative stability.

Looking ahead to 2026, de Beer emphasized the importance of local government elections, which he believes will address critical bread-and-butter issues affecting citizens. The UIM aims to contest these elections vigorously, focusing on providing accountability and improving municipal services.

Throughout the discussion, de Beer underscored the need for a sensible and pragmatic approach to governance, hoping for a break from political turbulence and a return to effective administration.

Extended transcript of the interview ___STEADY_PAYWALL___

Chris Steyn (00:00.)

South Africa is on a knife edge as it waits to hear which political parties will be in the Government of National Unity. We speak to Neil de Beer, the President of the United Independent Movement. Welcome, Neil.

Neil De Beer (00:15.532)

I feel welcome. It’s becoming a weekly matter of opinion and I like it. And I think this is my half an hour where I can hand over my thoughts and ideas of the past week and what a week it’s been, but what a week we are getting ready for next week. Knife’s Edge, you can feel it. And thank you for having me, Chris.

Chris Steyn (00:37.272)

You are welcome, Neil. What can you tell us about the Grand Coalition negotiations?

Neil De Beer (00:44.812)

Yeah, kind of shocking end of the Moonshot Pact. Then that evolved into the MPC, the Multi-Party Charter. As you noted, we left. The UIM withdrew from the Multi-Party Charter. Simultaneously, we noted ActionSA also left. Action SA had a more direct reason. The UIM clearly had to withdraw because I gave my word. And this is something because I’d like to end off on this segment of the Multi-Party Charter journey. When you give your word, it is an unsigned yet verbal contract with the people who you engaged to go with you on a journey. And when that journey ends and it comes out to the fact that you have to keepyour word, something in politics that we need to maybe put into class 101 of politics, keeping your word. We kept our word this week. We withdrew from the Multi-Party Charter because we said we cannot form a coalition with the ANC. We just cannot do it because we don’t want to. 

And we are going to stand and keep them accountable. And there were parties within the MPC who, by the way, have the full right to do what they want to do. It’s a democratic state. We enforced our democratic rights. So MPC journey for Neil De Beer and the UIM ended, hasn’t ended in governance, hasn’t ended in our current level of local government where we have seats in metros, and also partaking in not stepping away, but seeing where we can add our voice and that’s not going. So this week is going to be interesting on the course. But can I tell you from the Multi-Party Charter side, it will go on. It’s just that currently we’ve ended our membership because we didn’t get to the 50 plus one person. That was the objective.

Chris Steyn (02:59.16)

Meanwhile, the parties in the coalition talks also seem to be battling factions within each party. ANC, DA, EFF…

Neil De Beer (03:09.516)

Freedom Front, DA, ANC, factions within MK. Categorically the nuance of the EFF have remained. I said yesterday that Julius Malema, if joining a governmental organisation or a Government of National Unity, still stays Julius Malema. They don’t mutate out of who they are. They just, now I’m not saying Julius, but you know, a very wise man told me one day, he says, there’s only one thing worse than an idiot. I said what can be worse than an idiot and he said a motivated idiot. So when people have power necessity, when they put the people aside and the only focus they have is power, greed, and obviously to control and they put the people that want them there or should have them there aside, the only worse thing than a power hungry negotiator, is someone that wants to now become the power himself. And that’s what we should be scared of. We should be scared of a coalition, which I think John Steenhuisen actually averted to. And I agree. The verbage that was used is the Doomsday Coalition. Now it is that. I can reiterate that. Doomsday in the sense of the economy. 

And Chris, we are sitting at that precipice now. We’re sitting at that splitting of the road. They’re either going to go ANC-DA, IFP and cohort, which I must tell you economically are the people that are still carrying the torch for a free market economy, capitalism and a democracy. That is a fact and I’ll get to that. But the other side of this chart, of this journey is nationalisation. It is socialism. It is communistic and it is labour union intense. Now I don’t have to tell the country that. Now you’ve got to sit there and say there’s a splitting, there’s the waterfall, there are two nuances going around it. On what boat are you? And that’s why this country is kind of sitting on this rubber dinghy going down the Vic Falls. They can clearly hear the thunder and they’ve got two ways that they can pedal. Now there comes a point though when gravity exists. And when the flow of the river on whatever side you are taking, remember last week we were talking about the casino dealer, we are now talking about the person that is sitting on a major, major scenario of a stream. And the country, nay, nay, the world is sitting and going, which way will it go? And no matter the choices, it will always be that the ANC currently is not negotiating to stay in power. The ANC is currently negotiating to survive, Chris. And that’s a big difference.

Chris Steyn (06:16.76)

On top of the opposing ideologies that are complicating these negotiations and the factions within the parties negotiating, we have, from what I’ve heard, unrealistic demands for ministerial positions from certain people. I don’t know what you want to say about that.

Neil De Beer (06:42.252)

Well, it’s kind of going to a Sunday dinner at your in-laws. I mean, you’ve got to be there. If you’re not there, there’s a question. But then they sit there and they cook exactly the opposite that your mother cooked. But there are certain things interesting on the table. So you’re now scratching for the roast potato. You’re looking for a little piece of fat aligned on the lamb. And you’re definitely going to go for the peas with the bacon. The rest of it, you are just not into it. And this is absolutely ridiculous. When you are sitting at a table, you shouldn’t be picking out what you want. You should be doing the best for the country. And what we’ve got now is the actual appearance of those people who are picking and choosing. And they are actually causing that a Government of National Unity is not going to make it in the long run like the ’94 one didn’t  make it for two years because it’s about power. 

Now, everybody that I’ve now listened to the past week – and Chris yourself – everybody when they come onto a platform, they are doing a spin and they’re putting their own jargon on it and they’re doing their own waffling and they are saying…but you know what we are not even at power sharing, you know, we haven’t even decided who’s Finance whose Security whose Police whatever..they are lying, roughly lying. Those are the things that they would put on the plate in the first place so again, we’re going to this thing about when someone says I’m not going into a coalition because they promise people they won’t go into a coalition and they then just change the word. It’s gone from coalition to power sharing. It’s gone from coalitions to Government of National Unity. It’s this zebra you can paint it what colour, it’s coming out black and white. And I think the country is now tired…We are now tired of the jostling, the spinning, the regurgitation of the same suit. And all that we are saying is, we pray to God that sense and sensibility prevails. Because after this week, when everybody’s sworn in, and now I see there’s an appeal from parties to get the Chief Justice involved. And that’s exactly what we have said, no, no, no, nay, nay. If you’re going to pull the justice system into a political debate, as if it’s not, the true independence of the judiciary will then be questioned. There’s already questions, Chris, on the true independence of the Independent Electoral Commission. So we should be very, very careful of going down a slippery slope, when in actual fact we’ve got to get to the decisions this week. We’ve got to appease this country because I think we’ve all had enough of electioneering and politics that will last us for a very long time. I pray for the moment that I can put on the TV and instead of seeing politicians journeying and twirling, that maybe we get a nice cooking show. I think we need a break.

Chris Steyn (09:50.68)

Meanwhile, internationally, there is concern that even the best possible formation of a coalition government would be unstable and might not last.

Neil De Beer (10:04.332)

Well, we can’t blame them. It didn’t last the last time. And this is just the point that we are. We have got such a diverse bunch of political parties. Yet we know that although they are diverse, the DA is diverse, MK is diverse, new kid on the block, most radical of them all. And now you have these people sitting around and what they don’t understand is no matter what we do, there is an international political menu that has to be plated and served the minute that we get back into running the country, and I just told you I the reason I came late is because I just finished a invitation to address in Cape Town five very big investment entities from overseas in Europe who have dealt with me before who actually wanted to spend two hours with me and say to me are you gonna lost? Must we remove our money? Or can we get ready to reinvest? Now that’s it. That’s the crux of the matter. We’ve got to calm down the current fluctuations of emotional politics, the rhetoric that’s being spewed, and we’ve got to say to the world out there, because we need their money. South Africa is not an island. We need FDI, Foreign Direct Investment. There are three key notes, Chris, of Foreign Direct Investment. I think I’ve been involved long in the economy to understand. One, safety and security. It’s critical. Secondly, stability of the community. And thirdly, is this product, SA Pty, investable? And those are the things that we’ve got to go back there and tell them we are going to be able to take hands and fix this country so that it becomes the pearl that it should be.

Chris Steyn (12:04.6)

Meanwhile, the economy is taking an increasing battering while the talks are taking place.

Neil De Beer (12:13.868)

Well, it’s shattering, it’s cracking. You can see the dollar, you can see the rent, you can see people that are saying, we were going to put a factory in South Africa, we’d rather choose Nigeria. And this is what I’m trying to tell the people. And today, might I say, even if it was just five, I’ve saved the day. They are going to stay and they’re going to wait for this to pass and then look at opportunities. But here’s the unfortunate, fortunate matter, no matter, it depends on where you stand, they are only willing to start investing in the Western Cape. And I looked at that and I went, that’s quite interesting. And I said to the one guy, I said, Ryan, why would you do that? And he said, because the only place that we can look at the barometer of stability is the Western Cape. And that’s sad, Chris, because there are eight other provinces in this country that are attractive, you know, that are good. 

And now there’s this rumour that people that are in control in certain provinces are absolutely going to protect their own investment structures potential. What we’ve got to also understand is in the KwaZulu-Natal province, I’m going to tell you something now which is critical, hear me? I think you, the judge, Chris, in the past couple of months that you and I have spoken, a lot of the stuff that we’ve spoken about has come true. 

So here’s another one. This country, has got two major infrastructure ports that do import and export. Now, interesting, the Western Cape has got Saldanha and Cape Town Harbour, and KZN has Richard’s Bay and Durban. Now, let’s quickly talk something that’s brewing.  MK is emphatically trying to take over the control of KZN, and the DA really has control of the Western Cape.

Now, if you talk about battle strategy, which you know is my first and foremost attractive hobby. These are economic battle lines. Because if you now see that instead of a country being dominated by a singular party, provinces are now going into coalitions to become independent, not like Cape Exit or KZN Exit. No, no. But political control that will give them power on the most important infrastructures of the economy of this country. Now that’s interesting because now you’ve got a national government, whatever’s going to pop out there, but you’ve got provincial governments who are now kind of also walking away from the ANC without a doubt. Zuma controlling KZN and the DA controlling the Western Cape. Watch that space, watch it grow and that too…

Chris Steyn (15:13.624)

Yeah, I think there’s this scrambling in KZN  to try and finalize who that province is going to belong. I’m sorry.

Neil De Beer (15:21.044)

In Afrikaans they say Hulle gooi die dollos. That is throwing of the beads of the Sangoma, that they’re throwing it – and Chris we I said so before. I see what I spoke about, you spoke about, we just reached over a quarter of a million views on my previous video because we said something who now by the way is coming back. We said we’re sitting with a radical, separatist governance that’s settling in for the next five years. Now that radicalism, that separatism is not just on tribe, it’s not just on race, it’s not just on religion with the Israel-Palestine scenario that caused a major rift in this country. It also now is becoming an economic separatist radical formation. So if the ANC throws their dice and they say we’re going to go EFF-MK radical, then I’m telling you, like I’ve said to you before, this is Doomsday. This is an absolute Doomsday for the economy of the Republic, no matter how they spin it. 

But if it goes to the DA and Freedom Front and IFP, etc., may I say there will still be a dark cloud, but there will be the continuation at least of someone carrying the light.

And yeah, I want to put it straight on a question that was asked to me. Because I left the MPC and said I will not form a coalition with the ANC. Someone said to me, so what you’re actually saying is you don’t want the DA to then go and save the country. Remember the slogan, Rescue South Africa. That’s not what I said. No, no, no. Don’t put pap in my mouth. I am telling you, absolutely, now that that phase is gone, the only correct option if you had to put me now, as a person that you would correlate as being wise, would be that choice, Chris. I think you would agree. If I had the two ways to go and I had to go EFF, MK or DA, IFP, I’d go that way. No, but that’s obvious because that is the closest to me in the sense of a person that would like to see this economy revive, get jobs onto the ground, get safety, security. 

And may I say thank God and all other thunder that we are getting rid of Bheki Cele.

Neil De Beer (17:47.468)

I mean, what a astronomical day if they told me scoop of Rum-and-Raisin or getting Mr. Hat out. It will be Mr. Hat. So I’m also I’m happy that we might have also a refreshment. Can I call it a new beginning in certain of those key issues and get serious people to sort out serious business. And if I have to make my call, it’s obvious I would take that side. 

But who’s then the opposition? You see, because that’s the question. Who will police the police? And that’s why on Friday, unilaterally at a press meeting, I said that the United Independent Movement, who had an absolute thunderous voice, who grew in this time, we will stand in opposition in Parliament or not, it doesn’t matter. But we would be that thing that would say we are going to keep you accountable. And Patricia De Lille, GOOD party minister in an ANC Cabinet, stum. And of course that’s what happens when you get involved in the hurly burly. You are the hurly burly. So I fear that they’re going to get into the mud. You know, a great guy told me don’t pick a fight with a pig because soon both of you will be covered with so much mud, they won’t be able to say who are you and who’s the pig. And I’m sorry. They’re going to have to ensure that they don’t get covered by that mud if the DA goes in. But I fully support that channel instead of the other.

Chris Steyn (19:36.024)

May we look beyond this week Neil at 2026. What is your vision?

Neil De Beer (19:44.396)

Well, 2026 is the act, you know, I said to a guy the other day, I’m so dramatic in my alliances and my nuances today, Chris. So I said to a guy the other day, having owned a couple of restaurants, I said, what is the important thing about a burger? And the guy said the patty. I said, no, no, you’re wrong. The actual thing that makes a good burger is the bun because if the bun can’t hold the patty and the sauce and it disintegrates the bun, it becomes a patty. So it’s actually the bun. 

Now, correlate that theory to politics. People aren’t actually interested, Chris, in what’s happening at a provincial government level. They also don’t care for national parliamentary level, except that it becomes a circus with its own clowns. The bread-and-butter issues, undoubtedly in this country, is local government. That’s a fact. Because it’s local government that cuts your lawn, gives you electricity, makes sure you’ve got water, secures the infrastructure and makes sure that your rates and taxes work for you, isn’t it? So 2026 is going to be one of the most critical elections, barring the national election, on bread-and-butter issues. Now, if you go to Tshwane, if you go to Joburg, if you go to eThekwini, and also a little bit of Ekurhuleni, they’ve fallen apart. Sorry. They have actually fallen apart in the military term. We call it, it’s a broken arrow. 

To get those municipalities back up again is going to be so difficult, but can be done under the right administration. So we’re going to have to bear the brunt of the national issues and whatever happens at the top will happen. But the most critical part to service the ratepayers and the citizens of this Republic will have to be a formidable change in the 2026 local government election. That’s where the UIM will now contest. That is where we are going to start to make sure that we’ve got a councillor and already we are getting the volunteer lists ready. Other parties are still fighting to get into Parliament. I’m already getting nominees as candidates to stand in the 2026 municipal elections. We want to put a singular or even more candidate of the UIM in every one of the 270 odd municipalities in this country. Again, to ensure there’s accountability and to ensure that the bread-and-butter issues are done. 

Where was I the rest of the day today? Because I was on the streets today. We’ve had a major water crisis in one of the areas in the Western Cape and we were navigating water trucks on the ground. And when I stood there with about 150 people with buckets and the water truck came, the people just looked at you and went, thank you so much. That’s why I’m in politics. It’s to stand there, get the water, and the people just come into you and say, thank you, Meneer. Now, at the end of the day, if that was all the politicians’ point of view, wouldn’t it be a better country? So 2026, in the next two years, 18 months in actual fact, we’re back here. And then I hope we would be settled. We would be on the on the crosspath of getting South Africa back to work again.

Chris Steyn (23:14.008)

Thank you. That was Neil de Beer, the President of United Independent Movement, speaking to BizNews about the latest political developments in South Africa as a nation awaits its Government of National Unity. I’m Chris Steyn.

Read also: