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The recent coalition negotiations among political parties prior to the formation of municipal councils were so messy one tended to doubt the commitment of the current crop of leaders to the nation building icon Nelson Mandela so passionately pursued.
Perhaps the old generation – Mandela, Oliver Tambo, Joe Slovo on one side and FW de Klerk, Pik Botha, Kobie Coetzee on the other – gave the constitutional negotiations process the seriousness it deserved because to them, it was about the future of the country.
They approached the talks with flexibility, being prepared to be persuaded – hence the sunset clauses Slovo proposed helped to reach a settlement, mainly.
Some of the present politicians participated at Convention for a Democratic South Africa (Codesa) negotiations pre-1994 and should know how to meet each other halfway.
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Their presence did not help as they let the EFF and DA stick to their hardline coalition demands. It was as sure as sunrise that the ANC couldn’t have acceded to the EFF demands without causing racial tension.
You cannot drop Die Stem from the national anthem without provoking anger from the affected communities, or nationalise the Reserve Bank or implement land expropriation without any compensation without rattling the markets.
The DA approached the coalition talks wearing blinkers like a naughty horse. It selfishly wanted to win the race regardless of the obstacles that may trip it. In putting narrow self-interests above the interests of the nation, its politicians failed to see the bigger picture.
Thursday 12 25 November 2021 Even when it was clear the EFF was not going to be participating in the envisaged opposition coalition in Johannesburg and Tshwane, they refused to back Herman Mashaba’s mayoral candidacy for Johannesburg due to his previous relationship with the EFF.
Had it not been for the magnanimity of Julius Malema and Mashaba to persuade their parties to vote for the DA candidates, the process would have ended as messy it started, with the ANC back in power once more.
Now, it’s payback time for the DA – as it is in power at the behest of the EFF and ActionSA in Johannesburg, Ekurhuleni and Tshwane.
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It will need their nods to be able to pass the budgets otherwise there will be a stalemate that would affect service delivery. Whether the DA likes it or not, the real rulers in the three metros would be the EFF and ActionSA.
Otherwise, the EFF could overnight decide to remove them by simply supporting the ANC against any DA decision.
The worst-case scenario could be when the EFF decides to back an ANC-sponsored no-confidence motion against the DA speaker and mayor, thereby deliberately collapsing the DA administrations in Tshwane, Ekurhuleni and Johannesburg overnight.
Also, had it not been for Mashaba’s principled stance to keep the ANC out of power, ActionSA could, if it so liked, also decide to pull a trick on the DA. So the DA is obliged to keep Malema and Mashaba happy.
But isn’t it time the Codesa alumni like Cyril Ramaphosa and United Democratic Movement leader Bantu Holomisa stand up and remind the current leaders about the need for a Codesa-styled convention to trash out how coalitions should work without any ructions?