Lack of transparency, self-interest contributing to instability in coalitions – experts

Lack of transparency, self-interest contributing to instability in coalitions - experts
Lack of transparency, self-interest contributing to instability in coalitions - experts

Africa-Press – South-Africa. The absence of a coalition framework, transparency, and self-interest are a few of the issues that affect the stability and efficiency of various municipalities throughout Gauteng.

This came out of a roundtable discussion on coalition governments that was hosted by Darion Barclay, the chairperson of the Gauteng Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, in Pretoria on Thursday.

The discussion looked into the future of coalition government in the province and the difficulties plaguing metros, such as the City of Johannesburg, West Rand, and Ekurhuleni.

The programme manager for the SA Local Government Association, Sello Marokane, highlighted the challenges facing local government and the absence of guidelines for managing coalition arrangements.

He said often when parties formed a coalition, they needed a written agreement that solidified their intention of working together, adding those that were in place were vague, according to their research.

Marokane added:

He said when entering into these arrangements, political party leaders often neglected communities’ needs and instead pursued their own interests.

“The agreements are not necessarily considering the interests of communities that have elected councillors representing those municipalities.

“Because before elections, they go around and canvass and throw about their policies and manifestos.”

Morokane added: “They make promises to those communities, and those communities will vote for them based on whatever they have presented to them during the election period, but whenever they enter those agreements, they don’t consider communities anymore. It is only about leadership and positions they want to agree on.”

Expanding on the challenges facing municipalities, Barclay said 10 out of 11 councils were hung.

He added from 2000 to 2021, hung councils had risen from 21 to 79, reflecting instability because of constant change and differences in dynamics among parties, which he said delayed the passing of budgets and service delivery.

Reflecting on this, Barclay called for the implementation of measures that would tackle the issues which came with endless changes in leadership and positions in the council.

“While we feel there are some councils in the province that are pretty much stable, a number of those councils are not stable.

“Putting that into context, we need to ensure that we understand what are those regulatory frameworks there that can assist us to manage municipalities better.”

He suggested coalition arrangements be made public, and a representation system introduced, ensuring the outcome of the vote reflected the majority, including a threshold to limit the motions of no confidence passed.

“What is the impact? Look at what the Auditor-General has to say about what’s happening in those municipalities. There’s instability.

“There’s an impact on service delivery, and one thing if you look at the global study security of tenure, no spurious motions of no confidence.

“I say, we ask our citizens to come to the poll once in five years; why do we want to change the mayor every month? – shouldn’t we say there is security tenure for that person?” Barclay said.

He added a recommendation report with solutions contributed to by experts on governance, former councils, and political parties would be distributed to the public.

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