National Dialogue should not be a talk shop but provide decisive solutions to stabilize coalition governments

Issued by Siviwe Gwarube MP – Chief Whip of the Official Opposition
02 Aug 2023 in News

Note to editors: Please find attached soundbite by Siviwe Gwarube MP. 

As the DA prepares to participate in the National Dialogue on coalition governments hosted by the Presidency on the 4th and 5th of August, we are advocating for tangible outcomes from this gathering.

This dialogue comes at the back of the DA’s efforts to get political parties represented in Parliament and government to collaborate on solutions for unstable hung governments across the country. The urgency has been informed by the research we are seeing which indicates that we are likely to see provincial and possibly a national coalition government after next year’s election.

Parliament – as the institution tasked with lawmaking – cannot sit back and not prepare the groundwork for this possibility. We must ensure that the instability we have seen at a local level is not replicated at a provincial and national level. Ultimately coalition governments must serve the people and not narrow political of the connected few.

To this end, the DA has proposed and introduced a suite of Bills in Parliament to stabilize coalition governments in South Africa.

These Bills seek to amend the Constitution and the Municipal Structures Act of 1998.

These amendments will provide a legal framework for stable and accountable coalition governments at a local, provincial and national level. The laws will seek to achieve the following:

  • Introducing an electoral threshold that will be key to stabilizing overly-fragmented coalition governments. International best practice shows that most stable coalition governments around the world have electoral thresholds in place.
  • Expanding the time allowed in the Constitution to negotiate and swear in a government after an election from 14 days to 30 days across local, provincial and national levels.
  • Limit the use of motions of no confidence to once a year, provided there is evidence of laws being broken and objective gross misconduct. Motions of no confidence have been abused at a local government level. The impact of such a practice at a provincial or national level would be catastrophic.

While we have engaged all parties represented in Parliament about these proposals, we do hope that dialogue will create a space for experts, civil society and other key stakeholders to make their inputs.

However, the marker of success for this dialogue will be concrete action steps to be taken between now and the next election. We hope to see greater support for the Bills we have brought before Parliament and remain open to the myriad of other proposals coming from all stakeholders.

However, the Presidency cannot simply allow for this to be another talk-shop. South Africans are looking to their representatives for solutions that will bring about clean, accountable and stable governments. The DA stands ready to be part of the solution. We invite others to do the same.