If a coalition government takes over from the African National Congress (ANC) in 2019, the country could face a period of severe instability, former finance minister Trevor Manuel warned on Wednesday.
“I look at Johannesburg and Tshwane and Nelson Mandela Bay. Those are weak and unstable coalitions, and what do you do when you have that at the level of national politics?” he asked.
He was addressing Stellenbosch University students about their role as active citizens in a society.
“What processes do you follow? How do you construct a cabinet? How do you agree on a budget? How do you agree on legislation? I think we might be in for a very rough ride. It would shift power, but it may actually create a period of instability.”
He highlighted the disparities in South African society and said that active involvement in sectors such as education and community safety ensured a successful democracy.
“A part of the problem in South Africa is that ordinary citizens have outsourced their responsibilities. We have to move away from a top-down approach to a bottom-up approach.”
He said no-fee schools, which accounted for up to 70% of schools in the country, had no governing bodies to keep principals and teachers accountable. This was in contrast to former model C schools, where parents organised themselves to contribute to the school.
He used Mitchell’s Plain as an example of how residents had mobilised themselves around a community policing forum to hold their police accountable.
"Constables [in Mitchell's Plain] know they have to answer to the community policing forum."
In the “leafy suburbs of Cape Town”, there were no problems with policing because residents organised themselves to keep authorities accountable.
He called on students to become involved in communities and said this was a key part of tertiary education.
“If you are Afrikaans speaking, there is no reason why you can’t be active in a place like Langa.”