Too soon for a marriage of convenience

As the notion of a DA/ANC coalition becomes more mainstream, some fear there is no other option. But there definitely is, if the DA are capable of being both patient and ruthless

Robert Duigan


Robert Duigan


May 21, 2024

Too soon for a marriage of convenience

Many of those who follow my writing will be aware that I have been warning against the DA entering into coalition talks with the ANC for nearly two years. Personally I was shocked when I found out that was Zille’s intention for the party (especially when it was confirmed with leaked audio saying she would rather work with the ANC than any other party).

And it seems that Michael Beaumont shares the same perspective, judging by his reaction on Twitter yesterday when DA representatives refused to rule out a violation of the MPC agreement.

And yet I am already bumping into people online and occasionally in real life who swallow Zille’s line that it is the “best worst option”. That frame is too generous - the DA have been using the MPC as a stalking horse to get their desired position in national government by crook.

I contend that what it actually is, is complete stupidity, and will destroy the political centre in a single electoral cycle, while eviscerating minority representation for the foreseeable future.

The only reason anyone votes for the DA is to keep the ANC out. This is destroying the only reason anyone votes for them.

Not only that, but they have no leverage over the ANC, who are perfectly happy to go full steam ahead on land reform, white economic exclusion, nationalisation, centralisation and the usual thievery. And they can use their former colleagues in the EFF and MK as coalition bargaining chips to keep the DA in line.

Quite likely, any coalition they form will either be an unaccountable political monolith, or a short-lived catastrophe, depending on how well Zille can whip her patronage networks in the party.

Keep your powder dry

The issue is quite simply that, as late as it is for the state of the nation, it is still too soon for the electorate to embrace minorities in power again. 2/3rds of the population have stolidly supported either the ANC or its more radical breakaways for 30 years, with no change whatsoever.

A similar proportion of the black population have responded in polls that they do not believe the country belongs equally to all who live here, which makes sense. It takes a long time to change people’s minds, and nobody has the time or resources for that, considering how close the country is to a major systemic fiscal crisis.

So what can/should the DA be doing this political cycle? The basic point here is devolution.

I have already drafted a strategy for splitting up constituencies in Gauteng, where the MPC stands a chance of winning. The formula is fairly complicated, but effectively it means using the MEC for local government to establish new municipalities, and to use Soweto as a test case for leveraging S235, among other constitutional provisions, to force the changes past the National Municipal Demarcation Board.

By splitting Soweto from Johannesburg, the DA get a stronger grip on Johannesburg, while Action SA can claim credit for empowering Soweto and form a nativist coalition from the EFF and independent candidates there.

Then my splitting Pretoria from Tshwane, the Afrikaners get a city, the DA get a city they can run almost unopposed forever, and the regional economy will recover fairly rapidly.

The second point is to purge any politician or civil servant with any connection to the ANC or its splinter groups, past or present. In DA run municipalities, former ANC members and cadres have wreaked havoc, draining public finances and corrupting the DA from within, as I have covered in my writing on the Garden Route.

Security is obviously a big issue, but there are ways to expand policing and keep SAPS in line. Provincial govts can establish municipal police forces across the province and fund them with budget transfers for lower income areas and other jurisdictions they control.

The major obstacle then becomes SAPS, who hold all the powers of investigation. However, the provincial premiers have the power to open special investigative commissions, and this can be used to wield a virtuous terror over the viciously corrupt provincial policing departments, and force them to do their jobs.

Additionally, leveraging separatist sentiment into meaningful devolution is not hard in KZN or the WC (though it's a bit late for KZN now, we have to wait for MK to fizzle out). The People’s Bill is still an option; leveraging cultural distinctions into meaningful governing power, allowing them to gain greater control over transport, policing, education, and utilities.

If all of these points were taken seriously by the MPC (mainly by the DA), then we would have a formula that could virtually ringfence the two most important provinces from the coming damage that an ANC reunification coalition would inevitably cuase.

It is pretty plain that an ANC reunion would be either disastrous or the same as present, but that empowers the liberal faction for the municipal elections and the 2029 elections should they be able to take advantage of their opportunities and seize more power in the meantime.

It's not implausible that the MPC could actually break into the AfroNat voting bloc then - after all, things are not getting better in South Africa, and the option of turning to ANC breakaway factions for solutions will have lost its flavour.

The trouble is, the DA are not patient enough, and will end up coming to soon to bring us any satisfaction.

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