Seminar highlights inefficiencies in South African coalition government

21 September 2018

Could we still say coalition politics signify the future of South Africa?  High-profile panellists and “celebrity politicians”, including Genl Bantu Holomisa, leader of the UDM, debated this question at the South African Association of Public Administration and Management’s (SAAPAM) breakfast Seminar, hosted in collaboration with the Tshwane University of Technology (TUT) and the University of Johannesburg (UJ).

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Other panellists were Dr Kgosi Maepa, ANC Tshwane Chairperson; Dr TK Pope, Political Analyst; Prof Mcebisi Ndletyana, University of Johannesburg, Ms Magdeline Moonsamy, attorney; Mrs Lyndall Shope-Mofolo, General Secretary of COPE; and Mrs Onicca Moloi, MPL Limpopo.

The lively discussion focused, among others on opposition politics vs governance, as well as the need for more maturity in coalition government in South Africa. Although there were wide-ranging views on the desirability of coalition government for the country, there was also agreement that coalitions are not an anomaly, they are part of politics, However, they are also a product of voters’ decision not to vote.   

“Politician are as much to blame for the current situation in South African politics as voters who choose not to vote,” said Holomisa. “We started very well in 1994, but somewhere we dropped the ball. There was a gradual paradigm shift away from the days of Madiba, with the agenda of servicing the people being replaced by greed.”

Holomisa emphasised that “Politicians should not poke their noses into issues of tenders. Our role as politicians is to do oversight only.”

During the discussion, Prof Ndletyana highlighted the negative impact of contestation within coalition politics in South Africa on service delivery.  “Such contestation is a by-product of immaturity, which comes with experience, in coalition government and suffocates service-delivery.”

Prof Mashupye Maseremule, SAAPAM President and acting Executive Dean of Humanities at TUT, concluded the discussion with a question about the lack of service delivery in the country and the increase in the number of dysfunctional municipalities. “At least 7% of municipalities in South Africa are currently dysfunctional. Isn’t it time we found out what the root causes of these dysfunctionalities are?” 

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