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By Marizka Coetzer

Journalist


Coalition governance makes no difference, according to experts

Councillors have to work together to raise what is a rapidly sinking ship.


As the City of Tshwane celebrates its newly elected mayor, experts say previous coalition-led governance didn’t make a difference to the quality of service delivery, or manage the budget better.

Yesterday, Congress of the People’s (Cope’s) mayoral candidate Dr Murunwa Makwarela won the election with 112 votes to 101 votes for Democratic Alliance (DA) candidate Cilliers Brink during a special council meeting.

This is after Randall Williams, the Democratic Alliance (DA) executive mayor of Tshwane, resigned last month after he came under fire from partners in the multiparty coalition over an adverse audit opinion for the 2021- 2022 financial year in which the city was flagged for R1.2 billion in irregular, fruitless or wasteful expenditure.

ALSO READ: Cope’s Dr Murunwa Makwarela elected City of Tshwane mayor

Good City of Tshwane councillor Sarah Mabotsa said Tshwane has been in free-fall for years, culminating in millions in irregular expenditure and the collapse of services and infrastructure across the metro under Williams.

“The Good Party will nonetheless support the DA candidate, Cilliers Brink, when the council elects Williams’ replacement because the last thing Tshwane needs is the kind of political manipulation and instability that led to the appointment of a lameduck, or ‘placeholder’, mayor in Johannesburg,” she said.

She added that the ANC, with 34.6% of the vote in the city, supported the Cope candidate. This had effectively created another puppet metro mayor, with the ANC set to be pulling the strings, according to Mabotsa. She added that none of the options for the new mayor of Tshwane was ideal.

‘Rapidly sinking ship’

“As elected representatives of the people, however, councillors have to work together to raise what is a rapidly sinking ship,” she said.

Political analyst Piet Croucamp said coalition governments in both councils led by the DA hadn’t made a difference to service delivery.

“The Tshwane-led coalition didn’t manage the budget better. The problem is it’s more difficult to manage in a coalition,” he said.

Experience

Croucamp said the DA has a lot of experience in managing middle class society well, but when it becomes socially and economically complex, they struggle.

“Middle-class society is mostly doing it for themselves whereas in poor communities, such as informal settlements and townships, government has to take good governance to the people and here the DA has little experience,” he said.

Politics professor at the University of Limpopo Kgothatso Shai said coalitions were the weakest form of government, especially when the constituent political parties have a deep-seated policy and ideological discord.

“It also betrays the wishes of the electorate as most coalitions are negotiated and agreed to by elites post-elections,” he said.

At North-West University Dr Benjamin Rapanyane said coalitions do not work.

“There has to be a transformation when it comes to political culture. The new mindset should not come with opportunistic ambitions.”

READ MORE: Coalition politics: Some parties need perpetual instability to remain relevant