The strength of democracy

The strength of democracy

The strength of democracy

Many will be wondering how South Africa’s seventh democratic government will be constituted following the recent elections that resulted in no political party gaining an outright majority to lead the country for the next five years.
Citizens did their part in exercising their right to vote as pointed out by Section 19 of the Constitution which states that every adult citizen has the right to free, fair and regular elections.
The results of the seventh National and Provincial Elections released on Sunday showed that the African National Congress (ANC) garnered 159 seats in the 400-member National Assembly (NA), followed by the Democratic Alliance (DA) with 87 seats and the uMkhonto weSizwe party (MK party) with 58 seats.
This translates to the ANC having received 40.18 % of the votes followed by the DA with 21.81% and the MK with 14.58%.
The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) garnered 39 seats while the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) got 17 and the Patriotic Alliance (PA) received nine seats.
Other political parties gained the other remaining seats in the House with between six, three, two, and single seats.
The distribution of seats in Parliament is proportional to the number of votes cast for the various parties.
The National Assembly Guide to Procedure 2004, states that the NA “is the House directly elected by the South African electorate” with the Constitution stating that the National Assembly must consist of no fewer than 350 and no more than 400 women and men elected as its members.
In August 2023, Deputy President Paul Mashatile, in his capacity as Leader of Government Business, convened a National Dialogue on Coalition Governments. The aim of the dialogue was to lay the foundation for a National Framework on Coalition Governments, which would serve as a guide for effectively managing and navigating coalition governments where they become necessary.
The Presidency said at the time that the need for such dialogue was informed by the adverse effects that had been observed in certain coalition arrangements at local government, particularly their impact on service delivery and governance.
But what exactly is a coalition government?
“A coalition government exists when two or more political parties (or independent representatives) combine their votes in a legislature or a council, to elect a government, and to support the decisions it takes. This becomes necessary when no single party has a majority of the seats in the legislature or council,” notes a National Dialogue on Coalition Governments Q and A subsection.  
Elections in South Africa result in multiple parties being represented in Parliament, a provincial Legislature or a Municipal Council.
“And the executive leadership (President, Premiers and Mayors) is always elected by that legislature and can be removed by the Legislature. If none of the parties has more than 50% of the seats, a coalition is, therefore, necessary to support the executive. Otherwise, the President, Premier or Mayor is likely to be voted out of power,” the subsection further notes.
Government of national unity
South Africa is no stranger to coalitions having had one after the historic 1994 elections which resulted in a government of national unity (GNU).
In terms of the country’s then interim Constitution, the National Party and Inkatha Freedom Party participated in a government of national unity under President Nelson Mandela.
In 1994, the President was assisted by two Deputy Presidents, a Minister in The Presidency and 16 Ministers in the GNU which represented three political parties. In 1996 one political party exited the GNU, but maintained its official opposition status in the legislatures.
South Africa has also had coalitions at provincial level in the Western Cape and KwaZulu-Natal.
There have been coalitions in municipalities, ever since the first democratic local government elections in 2000.
The will of the people
Speaking at the Electoral Commission’s Election Results ceremony at the Results Operation Centre in Midrand, President Cyril Ramaphosa said that by going to vote, the people of South Africa have taken responsibility not only for the future of themselves and their families, but for the future of their country.
“Through their votes they have demonstrated, clearly and plainly, that our democracy is strong, it is robust and it endures. Our people have spoken. As the leaders of political parties, as all those who occupy positions of responsibility in society, we have heard the voices of our people and we must respect their wishes,” he said on Sunday.
Meanwhile, Parliament is fully prepared, and all the necessary arrangements have been made for establishing the new National Assembly. 
“Comprehensive plans are in place to ensure a seamless transition, including onboarding new Members of Parliament,” Parliamentary spokesperson, Moloto Mothapo said in a statement. 
READ | Plans underway for establishment of the seventh democratic Parliament
With South Africa having regularly held elections since 1994, the 2024 National and Provincial Elections are an affirmation of the strength this democracy. – SAnews.gov.za
 

Neo
Wed, 06/05/2024 – 14:34

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