Coalitions work in Gauteng because of political literacy: Analyst

Panel discussion
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Political Analyst, Lesiba Teffo says coalitions work in Gauteng because of political literacy and education in the province. He says the opposite – political illiteracy in other provinces – is what is giving coalitions a bad reputation, which could improve if more is invested in educating the electorate.

Teffo was part of the SABC’s election round-table panel discussion comprising analysts and journalists at the IEC National Results Operations Centre in Pretoria.

“Political literacy is important because this is where people begin to interrogate the policies other than being driven by the personalities, and precisely because of that the provinces are failing educationally. Mature democracies are under coalition governments. You have Germany, for example. It took under five months for (German Chancellor) Angela Merkel to get a partner there, but the system is so mature that you did not even realise.”

On the question of youth voter apathy, Teffo has encouraged young people to vote as they cannot change the status quo by not doing anything – and if they want change they must be the agents of change.

“When it comes to the youth looking apathetic or disinterested in voting, one would say maybe they have a reason. If you were born in 90’s today you are 25 years old or you are 30 years old and you say, ‘what is it that I have experienced since I became politically aware or politically conscious. In the main, it was all negative; it was all about nepotism, cronyism, corruption, alienation of the leadership from the people. Is this what I want to participate in?’”

Regarding the increase in the number smaller political parties, Teffo says this is driven by power and money.

“It is all about the politics of the stomach. It is also about tribal politics. If they can do it and get somewhere; either if it is in the Eastern Cape or North West, why can’t we do it. Some of them are too small to make an impact. There will be a lot of wasted votes. Almost 20 parties won’t get a singles seat.”

Teffo says, “They are disillusioned with the status quo. They feel like they haven’t benefited out of this since being in the new dispensation and based on that, some are saying maybe we should try other political formations.”

He adds that changing the electoral law will save South Africa.

“Constituency-based (electoral act) says in your own village you will be elected to go represent in Parliament. You will know who is the person you are voting for and the person won’t be accountable to the party, but will be accountable to the villagers; to the electorate and if you do not perform; if you do not deliver, we don’t have to go to the party. They just vote you out.”