Coalition politics and the dynamism of contradictions

A coalition with the DA would sound the death knell for the ANC, says the writer. | Ayanda Ndamane/ Independent Newspapers

A coalition with the DA would sound the death knell for the ANC, says the writer. | Ayanda Ndamane/ Independent Newspapers

Published Jun 7, 2024



Coalition governments are a common phenomenon in politics the world over. Germany has been under very stable coalition governments for the past 40 years.

Coalitions are thus premised on good co-operation and a measure of compromise and management of contradictions.

In 1994 after the first democratic elections in South Africa, the ANC won an overwhelming majority and was not required to enter into a coalition to form a government.

However, the ANC and the now-defunct National Party (NP) as well as the IFP came together to establish a government of national unity (GNU).

This GNU was forced on the ANC for various reasons, some of which were to massage white fears and to ensure a “smooth transition” to black rule. This government was characterised by sunset clauses and the retention of certain portfolios such as finance that was given to an NP appointee.

The Communist Party of China, faced with Japanese aggression, decided to suspend its struggle against the Kuomintang which represented bourgeois interests, but formed a united front with its class enemy in the interest of fighting Japanese imperialism.

Mao Zedung was able to articulate in his seminal work on dealing with contradictions. In short, he said the contradictions between the Chinese Communist Party and the Kuomintang were secondary, while the contradictions between the Chinese people and Japanese imperialism were primary.

The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) issued a press statement immediately prior to the May 29 national and provincial elections, urging voters to shun certain parties and giving a list of those parties that voters should avoid, among them the DA, ActionSA and RISE Mzansi.

Numsa appealed to voters to consider casting their votes for parties not mentioned on the list. What is critical about the Numsa statement is its clear understanding of the dynamics of contradictions and when to put aside secondary differences and focus on attacking those with whom we hold primary contradictions.

Glancing through the manifestos of these listed parties it becomes clear that these parties would reverse the gains of the working class and the workers.

Jabu Rakwena is the national spokesperson of the Azanian People’s Organisation (Azapo). Picture: Supplied

South Africa finds itself saddled with a forced coalition at the national level because there is no outright winner after the elections. The ANC is at a crossroads, speaking to four major political rivals and assessing which will be the best bedfellow.

A party like the DA, which represents the interests of those who hold primary contradiction with the working class and the workers, is seeing an opportunity to finish off what it started, of killing the deferred dream of the black child.

The pre-conditions placed on the table for a coalition with the ANC will reverse the gains of the workers and the poor and further accelerate privatisation.

ANC will be best warned to heed the words of Mao Zedung and not choose the parties that Numsa identified as holding primary contradictions with the core constituency of the ANC.

Whatever contradictions there are between the ANC, uMkhonto weSizwe Party (MKP), or the EFF, including those on the left, are secondary and can be put aside for the sake of the noble liberation project.

There is room for growth and visionary future development within those parties as compared to the DA, which has reached its ceiling.

In considering the coalition pacts, the ANC should not limit itself to the national sphere, and the provinces that it did not achieve an outright majority.

To demonstrate genuine renewal and a spirit of reconciliation the coalitions should extend to provinces such as Limpopo, Mpumalanga, the North West, the Free State and the Eastern Cape where ANC obtained an outright majority.

Going into coalition with like-minded parties even in these provinces will demonstrate a magnanimous attitude as shown in 1994 when the ANC agreed to a coalition despite having won an outright majority.

The alternative of going into coalitions with the DA should not be considered as it will spell a death knell for the ANC. There is already discomfort from some within the ANC about this toenadering with the DA and taking the process further will put a strain on the alliance the ANC has with Cosatu and the SACP.

This will also be a bitter pill to swallow for those behind the support for the cause of the people of Palestine.

Jabu Rakwena is the national spokesperson of the Azanian People’s Organisation (Azapo).

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