Coalition countdown: time is running out

The DA will work with ActionSA but not the EFF. ActionSA thought about working with the EFF but isn’t into it anymore. No one seems to want to work with the ANC, apart from the Patriotic Alliance (PA), and maybe the IFP.

Trying to keep track of coalition negotiations is dizzying. As we told you last week, following the recent local government elections that delivered shock losses to the big parties, more than a quarter of our municipalities are “hung” – no single party received a majority. This has led to all sorts of talks and horse-trading, like: “I’ll support you to rule in this big city if you support me to run a bunch of small towns.” 

We keep hearing little updates from various party insiders, on and off the record, but nothing is clear yet. The biggest development so far is reports that the PA – founded by gangster turned businessman Gayton McKenzie – pulled out of opposition talks with the DA and other smaller parties and is working with the ANC, which is giving Gayton and co the government positions the DA refused. Without the PA’s eight seats in the city of Joburg, the DA can’t pull together a coalition of opposition parties to take the city, so the ANC will hang on to it with the PA’s help. 

As political journalist Natasha Marrian puts it, McKenzie is a self-described “coloured nationalist” and the party’s focus on coloured voters is helping it amid the rising tide of nationalist politics in SA’s communities. 

But as the talks have revealed so far, nothing is certain. We’ll only know for sure when various mayors and other positions are elected. 

Parties are running out of time to find a common cause: they have until November 23 – that’s Tuesday! – to form governments. After that, any “hung” municipality is placed under provincial administration, setting the stage for an election rerun.

This article appeared as part of The Wrap, 18 November 2021. Sign up to receive our weekly updates.