DA Coalition Bills gazetted for public comment; on track to stabilize coalition governments

Issued by Siviwe Gwarube MP – Chief Whip of the Official Opposition
28 Mar 2023 in News

The instability we have witnessed in the various metro governments across the country and the possibility of national or provincial coalition governments has spurred the DA to table legislation in Parliament which would stabilize these governments.

We are submitting a suite of bills to prepare Parliament for the possibility of local, provincial and national coalition governments. It is critical that Parliament is proactive in creating a legislative framework that would assist with governance stability and reliable service delivery.

The first Notice of Intention to Introduce a Private Members Bill on stable coalitions was published in the Government Gazette on Friday, March 24th. While the second one was published on Monday the 27th of March.

The first two of these suite of bills are the Constitution 19th Amendment Bill, 2023 and the Local Government: Municipal Structures Amendment Bill, 2023.

The Constitution 19th Amendment Bill, 2023 will seek to amend sections 102 and 141 of the Constitution which deals will the removal of a President and a Premier through a motion of no confidence. The Local Government: Municipal Structures Amendment Bill, 2023 will seek to amend sections 40, 41(e) and 58 of the Local Government: Municipal Structures Act 117 of 1998.

These two Bills seek to achieve stability in all spheres of government by prescribing the number and the circumstances under which motions of no confidence can be moved in a speaker, mayor, premier or the president. While motions of no confidence are a crucial accountability mechanism, they are susceptible to abuse as we have seen at a local government level.

Limiting the frequency and placing clear grounds under which these can be moved and voted on, will see a level of stability that is needed for effective service delivery. Currently, coalition governments may be voted in, and pass a budget that they may never get to deliver against. It is impossible to hold these governments to account for good governance practices and services delivery if they change frequently, and often due backroom deals that have nothing to do with the people.

Firewalling governments against this kind of disruption will serve citizens better than is currently the case.

These are important amendments to the Constitution and existing legislation as we head towards the 2024 National and Provincial Elections, as well as the 2026 Local Government Elections.

While we seek to limit motions of no confidence to a year, there will be a safety net built in that will allow additional motions to be brought within this period providing for exceptional circumstances , such as a violation of the Constitution or law; misconduct or the inability to perform the functions of office. This is a much higher threshold for a motion of no confidence and forces the movers to base these in fact or in law.

The DA is now awaiting the gazetting of the remainder of these coalition bills which seek to:

  • Introduce electoral thresholds in local government to stop the over-fragmentation of political parties which gives rise to coalition governments made of several parties. This has proven to be an impossible task to manage and have often given rise to one-seat king makers opting in and out of agreements due to cheque-book politics. Successful coalition governments across the world have some threshold in place for this desired stability.
  • Extend the time in which a mayor, speaker or whip must be elected after a local government election and align it with the 30-day time period allowed at a national government to elect a president.

In addition to these Bills which are already before in the process of being introduced in Parliament, the DA will introduce more amendments to propose a national electoral threshold and binding coalition agreements once the Electoral Amendment Bill has been constitutionally challenged and signed into law.

The DA calls upon the public, civil society, political parties and interested organisations to provide their comments on these Bills by emailing speaker@parliament.gov.za and copying in legislation@da.org.za.