An ANC-DA coalition cannot work

Afriforum researcher Rob Duigan proposes that in many ways, South Africa is like the world at large – an anarchic landscape with competing elites and ethnic enclaves, dominated by ambitious attempts at centralisation. He believes an ANC-DA coalition would be disastrous for the country, eroding the bargaining power of the DA and leaving the ANC with all the cards in its hand. Read his opinion below to discover the options he imagines. – Sandra Laurence

An argument against the coalition


By Rob Duigan

As I have argued in the past on both Politicsweb and Biznews, an ANC-DA coalition would not only be extremely foolish, but detrimental to any future resistance against black national-socialism (EFF/RET). I received a rebuke from Helen Zille for this stance, in which she insisted that the DA would never enter into a coalition with the ANC “in its current form”.

Unfortunately, as Zille and the rest of the party leadership see it, such a coalition is an existential matter, and seizing control of the state in 2024 is mandatory, in order to reverse a terminal decline and rescue what is left of the institutions which their ancestral incarnation, Smuts’s South African Party, established. 

This makes the form of an ANC with which they would hypothetically enter into a coalition largely irrelevant – they see no other option. That leaves them with nothing to bargain with (or at least nothing that would be visible to the public), and leaves the ANC with the EFF to bargain with. They hold all the cards.

Recently, Martin van Staden put it more succinctly – such a coalition would result in the DA being swallowed up and disappearing, just as the NP did in the 1990s. I have argued something stronger – namely that the destruction of the DA’s credibility as an opposition party would be destroyed overnight, as would the ANC’s credentials as a majoritarian populist party, resulting in a massive shift of votes to the EFF, who would then achieve the inevitable, only five years later (or less, if past ANC presidential terms are anything to go by), and with a far greater mandate.

But Martin has offered a soft option to the DA which, while seductive in its sophistication, is unlikely to be perceived by the electorate in the light which Martin presents it. He argues that the DA should avoid a coalition, but adopt a “confidence and supply” strategy – supporting an ANC minority government by blocking any votes of no confidence from the EFF.

Fundamentally, what the DA’s new public position, and Martin’s thoughtful, yet (in my opinion) mistaken, strategy have in common, is that they will both be perceived by the bulk of the voter base in the same way – the ANC’s base will see a compromise with minority interests which justifies the worst of the WMC conspiracy theories, and the DA’s voters will see collusion with a criminal and racist enterprise.

The only way a DA-ANC coalition could save South Africa is if it enacted a state of emergency, and eradicated all black nationalist opposition, such that it can make no comeback. Without such a drastic manoeuvre, the victory of these forces is inevitable, as eventually the electoral cycle rolls round to unseat incumbents.

As it stands, the DA runs another risk, which is that it is in danger of losing their majority in the Western Cape, due to the PA and the VF Plus eating away their Coloured and Afrikaans voter bases. If they publicly offer a deal with the ANC approaching the polls, their voter base will rebuke them. This will almost certainly cost them their 2021 3.4% majority.

In order to secure an ANC coalition, the DA will be forced to accept one in the WC as well, whether with the ANC or the VF Plus. In the latter case, they will be forced to accept a referendum on Cape independence. In the former case, they will be forced to let the ANC destroy all the DA has managed to preserve.

The final option for minorities to protect themselves will fall to the use of a tax revolt, to force the ANC to the bargaining table for sweeping reforms. The success of such a campaign will rest on the DA at least tacitly endorsing it. But out of their interest in attaining state power, it must affirm its authority, and cannot entertain such a radical action.

This means that any option for forestalling the Zimbabwe-fication of South Africa will rest on the capacity for military violence, a situation too nightmarish to contemplate.

The calculus is undeniable – South Africa’s decline and transformation is ineluctable if one resorts to parliamentary politics alone, and without accepting Cape independence or a tax revolt as an option, whether de facto (local autonomy) or de jure (full sovereign independence), the DA will have destroyed South Africa, and itself.

If the DA does not come to its senses and embrace the alternatives available, it will dash the country on the rocks.

Fortunately for many DA members, they will always have foreign career options, as many of their former members have shown in recent years, by emigrating to the UK and elsewhere. Unfortunately for the rest of us, such options are not universally available.

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