You are wrong, President Ramaphosa. The future of our country lies in coalitions

Fellow South Africans

For two years this city had a government that was making progress. From 2016 until last year, NMB was experiencing, for the first time ever, a government that would not tolerate corruption or waste. A government that put the needs of the people first.

This followed more than two decades of plunder under an ANC local government so corrupt it made the looters of the state elsewhere look like amateurs. By 2016, this city had been brought to its knees, with almost every government project and tender offering an opportunity for someone to make money.

Quite rightly, the people of NMB said “no more” and voted the ANC out. In its place came a coalition government led by the DA that immediately started to right two decades of wrongs.

This DA-led government turned a R2bn debt in the metro into a R650m surplus. It introduced a brand new Metro Police Force. It stopped over R600m in corrupt contracts. It resurfaced over 55,000 square meters of road. It eradicated almost 10,000 bucket toilets. In two years NMB went from second-least to second most trusted metro in SA.

But while this was great news for the people of NMB, it was bad news for those who had become accustomed to a little extra money in the pocket. And so the DA-led coalition fell to a new coalition of sorts: a coalition of corruption that turned its back on the people of this city and returned to the old ways of looting and patronage.

Almost immediately, the progress made under the DA slowed down and, in many cases, came to a complete halt. The tarring of this road we’re standing on was one of many such projects undertaken by the administration of Mayor Athol Trollip. But the moment the ANC, EFF and UDM’s coalition of corruption took over, these projects ground to a halt. They took away the budget the DA had set aside for the tarring of the roads here in Ward 55, leaving them in this state.

During its last year in office here, the DA-led coalition spent all of its Urban Settlement Development Grant and was rewarded with an extra R200 million from National Treasury – money which this coalition of corruption almost certainly won’t spend. By February this year they had only spent 30% of their capital budget. If they don’t spend this additional money by the end of the financial year, it will be returned to National Treasury and the people of NMB will once again lose out.

That is the state of NMB today, under this ANC/EFF/UDM coalition. It is back where it was before 2016. The looters are back in office, and the people of this city are forgotten once more.

President Ramaphosa was here in Motherwell just two days ago, complaining about coalition governments. He said they don’t work, and you should rather all vote for the ANC. He said this place is covered in rubbish, and he blamed the municipality for making the place dirty.

But he was blaming his very own government for this. The ANC is, by far, the majority partner in this new coalition of corruption. When he speaks of the poor state of areas like this – of the litter and the crime and the lack of jobs – he is pointing out all the failures of his own ANC.

The President has no problem blaming coalition governments when campaigning for the ANC, but he seems to forget that the ANC government is precisely that – a coalition. Their Tripartite Alliance with Cosatu and the SACP has little in common with one another, other than the pursuit of power.

And they seek to do so by coalescing around race – by creating an “us” and “them”, and urging voters to stick to this racial solidarity. This kind of mobilisation is a crude throwback to the days of Apartheid has no place in our modern democracy.

The fact is, coalitions work when they are formed in the interest of the people, and they fail when they are formed in the interest of power and patronage and mobilised around race.

The DA-led coalitions here in NMB as well as in the Gauteng Metros, succeeded in delivering far beyond what the previous ANC governments could deliver because the needs of the people were central to their existence. But the ANC coalition of corruption here in NMB, just like their Tripartite Alliance coalition, is doomed to fail because it is chasing the wrong goal, and it is serving itself.

So no, Mr Ramaphosa, you are wrong about coalitions. They do work and they are, in fact, the future of our politics here in South Africa. But then we are talking about real coalitions formed to govern in the interest of the people. We’re talking about the kind of coalitions the DA has already formed successfully here in NMB and elsewhere in South Africa.

We must reject this call by President Ramaphosa next month when we go to the polls. We must remind him that what he’s asking for – a one-party state – is precisely what delivered us the mess our country is in.

His one-party state gave us state capture. His one-party state gave us the brazen looting of our SOE’s which has now crippled Eskom. His one-party state gave us a stalled economy and record unemployment.

Next month we must vote for change. We must vote for a government that can and will build One South Africa for all. And if this turns out to be a coalition government, then let it be one built on a foundation of the values of the Democratic Alliance.

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