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Coalition govts can work if there is agency regulating it, says ex-deputy IEC chairperson


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Coalition govts can work if there is agency regulating it, says ex-deputy IEC chairperson

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25th October 2021

By: News24Wire


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The former deputy Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) chairperson, Terry Tselane, says the country needs a legislative structure to regulate political party coalitions.

Tselane said he believed the structure should act as the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) of coalitions.


News24 political editor Qaanitah Hunter spoke to him in this week's instalment of the Ballot Box, a limited series of podcasts in the lead-up to the municipal elections, about the challenges of a coalition government.

Tselane said South Africa was beginning to move towards a position where the notion of one dominant party was going to fall away.


This was evident in the 2016 municipal elections in which 27 municipalities ended up being hung councils with no political party winning an outright majority to single-handedly govern it.

"I think whereas we had 27 municipalities, I think this is likely to increase during this 2021 municipal election and I think there is also the possibility that even in 2024 there are provinces that are likely to have, you know a coalition arrangement and then I think you'll have even at National Assembly level, there is a possibility that we will end up with coalitions.

He added: "So, the coalition is something that is here to stay, and I've always said that you know, the fact that we've got proportional representation system and we've had one dominant party has actually been abormal because you'd expect a dominance of one political party to be prevalent in a first-past-the-post system or in the 'winner takes all'."

It was for this reason, Tselane said, he had been advocating for the regulation of coalitions.

"To make sure that there is stability and political parties are able to deliver to the constituencies that they represent."

He suggested South Africa should investigate the model used for coalitions in Kenya.

According to Tselane, in Kenya, political parties deposited the agreement to a structure representing political parties once they entered into an agreement.

"That regulates the political parties' coalitions. Now in the case of South Africa, we need to develop a similar structure; that structure should be acting almost like the CCMA of coalitions.

"And it is a structure where agreements would be deposited and the agreements must always contain the minimum service delivery programmes so that political parties that enter into a relationship, they know what is the basis of their relationship that it is for the benefit of the constituencies that they represent, and that it is not going to be easy for them to get out of the relationship."

Furthermore, he described the current model as a "vat en sit" (take and sit) model where a person you knew left someone "and then whenever they feel that they are comfortable or they are no longer happy in that relationship, they just pack and go".

"We cannot have that. It is that, that has actually created instability in our country and in now that we know that coalitions are here to stay, we need to regulate them by establishing that structure, where the political parties that enter into a relationship enter into a proper marriage, they deposit the agreements to that particular structure and it becomes difficult for them just to get out of relationship and leave that relationship."

Tselane said in countries like Germany, there have been coalitions since 1945 and these countries remained stable.

He added political parties represented in Parliament should pass legislation to regulate coalition governments.


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