National Dialogue on Coalition Governments The Contribution of South African Political Parties to Functional Coalition Governments

Aug 4, 2023 | Press Releases

All protocols observed.

On behalf of the IFP, I would like to thank all present here today, and across the country, for their well wishes for uMntwana waKwaPhindangene. Thank you, South Africa.

The Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) is the fourth largest political party in South Africa, and was established by our Founder and President Emeritus, Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi, in 1975. Our party exists to serve and has done so faithfully for almost 50 years.

As the IFP, we acknowledge that coalitions are here to stay. We have also witnessed the failure of coalitions at local level – for a variety of reasons.

We are dedicated to the pursuit of functional coalition governments, whether it be at local, provincial, or national level and we are committed to doing the work needed to ensure that these governments are functional so that they can provide the services our people need.

It is for this reason that the IFP has joined these discussions today, and that we will be meeting with fellow opposition parties later this month to further explore what is needed for coalition government to succeed.

We will be meeting at Emperor’s Palace in Gauteng on 16 and 17 August 2023 for this National Convention.

The IFP would like to state for the record that we are willing to work with any party that shares our values and has the goal of improving the lives of the millions of South Africans that battle for survival daily due to poverty, inequality, and rampant unemployment.

Further, the IFP makes the same pledge to future coalition partners as it does to our supporters: you can trust us. The IFP is a party committed to the values of servant leadership and good governance, with a proven track record.

We appreciate the work that has been done in preparation for this Dialogue, and have studied the discussion papers, which contain some valuable insights. However, we believe it is very ambitious to believe that the question of coalition governments can discussed – and resolved – in a day-and-a-half.

Our point of departure should first be to define the different types of coalitions, and to determine whether or not the coalition-making process needs to be defined.

All those that have read the documents made available, as well as done their own research, will know that there are different schools of thought. Either:

·         A regulated process: like in Kenya and Mexico, where coalitions need to officially register with an election management body or political party regulatory body and/ or submit agreement documents prior to elections.
·         Written agreements between political parties.

The IFP is willing to consider regulations if such will be of equal benefit to all parties involved, of benefit to the electorate, and in line with the Constitution.

Based on our experiences and research thus far, the IFP believes the following four elements are essential for building strong coalitions and is committed to each element. These are:

·         Communication
·         Consultation
·         Consensus
·         Compromise

The communication element is three-fold:
·         each party must keep the lines of communication open with their internal structures, to build support and identify challenges and issues from party supporters.
·         potential coalition partners must share information, communicate honestly, and agree on decision-making processes.
·         the coalition must communicate with the public at large and highlight goals and accomplishments.

We believe this National Dialogue could be considered to form part of the ‘communication’ element, as various stakeholders are gathered to share information.

The next step would be consultation. This is essential to the success of any coalition and provides a safe space for parties to try to understand the others’ points of view. It also be used as an opportunity to establish conflict-resolution processes.

Consensus-building is possibly the most time-consuming element to the process, as parties need to find common ground. In South Africa, there are many voices, but I am certain that most opposition parties present here today will agree that they want to build a just and prosperous society, with opportunities for all. Parties with a people-first ethos will find much in common. 

Compromises will, however, always be needed. No two parties are in 100% agreement. The goal should be to find middle ground where all involved are comfortable.

In closing, I want to remind all those here today that we are called to serve the public: from those in National Government, to our Provincial and Local Government structures. There is no silver bullet to solve the ‘coalition government issue’. However, if we all commit to set aside selfish ambitions and put the needs of the people first, I believe we can find a way to make coalition governments work.

I thank you.


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