COSATU welcomes the National Dialogue on a Framework for Coalition Governments

The Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) welcomes the National Dialogue on a Framework for Coalition Governments convened by Deputy President Paul Mashatile.  This is an important and long overdue conversation that the nation needs to have.  Our constitutional democracy is still in its infancy and will need to be adjusted from time to time to ensure that it provides for stable and accountable governments that can focus on the many socio-economic challenges that working class communities face and not be distracted by endless palace politics, tenders or the trappings of power.

The Federation has been deeply angered by the shameful state of affairs that has seen municipal workers in 36 municipalities routinely not being paid and the rapid deterioration in municipal and public services.  The nation has collectively felt a sense of shame whilst witnessing the revolving door in countless municipalities where mayors are removed on a monthly basis and parties seek to collapse quorums to avoid being ousted from office.  Some of the worst examples are Joburg which has had 8 mayors in the past 2 years and Nelson Mandela Bay which has had 21 mayors since 1994 whilst it battles for dear life with a water crisis.  Matters will become messier when independent candidates are allowed to contest national and provincial elections for the first time in 2024.

Currently the legislative framework is largely silent on how to manage this serious threat to good governance.  Municipalities can be placed under administration or fresh elections held when Parliament, the Legislatures or Councils fail to fulfil their statutory obligations, namely elect office bearers and pass budgets.  In a political landscape that is likely to be increasingly marked by coalitions, the existing legal framework is insufficient.

It is important that the current levels of chaos that have become synonymous with local government are not allowed to replicate themselves in provincial and national government.  We cannot afford a scenario where health workers, Police or Correctional Services officers wonder if they will be paid or to see hospitals and schools grind to a halt if budgets are not passed and essential supplies cannot be supplied.

Whilst it will take some time to adjust our electoral and governance laws over the next few years, it is critical that Parliament review the frequency and thresholds within which motions of no confidence can be held if we are to manage the current musical chairs disrupting service delivery.  It is also important that where hung Parliaments, Legislatures and Councils fail to meet their statutory obligations within a set period, that governments of unity come into effect based upon the popular electoral outcome.  Merely calling fresh elections every few months in such hung constituencies will not resolve anything when the electorate is deeply divided, are a financial burden the state cannot afford and a threat to service delivery to the poor.

Whilst welcoming the beginning of this important dialogue, COSATU will work with its Alliance partners, the African National Congress and the South African Communist Party, to ensure a decisive victory for the Alliance in the 2024 elections.  Workers cannot afford political anarchy when working class communities are already under siege from our myriad of socio-economic challenges.

Issued by COSATU

For further information please contact:
Matthew Parks
Acting National Spokesperson & Parliamentary Coordinator
Cell: 082 785 0687