Tussle over the Constitutional Reform tiebreaker

The DA have vetoed on the admission of the PA to the GNU, which would have got the coalition over the 2/3rds threshold. But the VF+ remains a potential candidate.

Robert Duigan


Robert Duigan


Jun 26, 2024

Tussle over the Constitutional Reform tiebreaker

Two additional political parties, the Patriotic Alliance (PA) and GOOD, have signed the government of national unity (GNU) Statement of Intent, bolstering the collective to a two-thirds majority in the National Assembly. This threshold, required for constitutional changes, is now met by the five-party coalition comprising the ANC, DA, IFP, PA, and Good, holding 273 of 400 seats, or 68%.

However, a spanner has been thrown in the works by Helen Zille, the chairwoman of the Democratic Alliance, who has rejected the Coloured parties’ advances, pointing to clauses in the Statement of Intent which stipulate that all existing signatories must be consulted, and that new motions require the consent of 60% of existing signatory members.

The DA has been unequivocally firm on their rejection of any form of cooperation with the PA at all levels up until this point, and while prior protests about the ANC may give the impression that this is a flexible position, Zille’s private position on the matter was revealed in 2019, when she stated in a leaked audio recording that she would prefer to work with the ANC of Cyril Ramaphosa than with any other political organisation.

ANC Secretary-General Fikile Mbalula welcomed the PA and Good to the GNU, highlighting the main body of the ANC’s opposition to Zille and Ramaphosa’s plans for a more exclusive coalition.

This tension over the PA’s role is unresolved, and with a three-ward by-election in Beaufort-West coming up, the attitudes of the respective parties’ leadership could well have an impact on local government too.

Efforts to expand the national coalition further are underway, with the Freedom Front Plus (FF+) in discussions to join. FF+ spokesperson Wouter Wessels confirmed receiving the statement of intent and indicated that proposed amendments related to policy directives were being reviewed internally. Once approved, the FF+ is expected to sign within days.

The FF+ views the GNU as an opportunity for balanced power and supports coalition governments, aligning with its belief in the future of South Africa's political landscape.

Whether the tiebreaker for a constitutional majority ends up being the VF+ or the Coloured identity parties however, is the main contestation, and may mean the difference between increased centralisation and largess, and greater devolution of political powers.

The VF+ have already gained concessions from the ANC regarding Afrikaner self-determination in Orania and beyond, in line with the recent Afrikanerverklaring.

Coloured leaders largely endorse the same political program as the ANC, albeit with a more stringent approach to law and order, and a slightly different approach to racial justice, having been excluded from the racial privileges of both the past and present regimes..

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