Political party coalitions had negative impact on governance in JHB: Makhubo

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Johannesburg Mayor Geoff Makhubo says coalition government in the city have had a negative impact on governance and service delivery.

Makhubo says they have seen the collapse of governance in municipal entities 2016 to 2019 when the city was run by the DA with the support of the EFF and smaller parties.

He has warned that when parties enter coalition arrangements, priorities and agreements need to be made clear at the outset. He was taking part in discussions of the NCOP’s Local Government Week interaction between provinces and municipalities.

Makhubo added that there is a need to guard against making decisions in the interest of a coalition that could have far-reaching financial implications in the future.

“In our own experience, there’s been a collapse of governance in certain municipal entities and that’s something that we are working to correct. For instance, City Power, which was our cash generators of electricity in 2016, had surpluses and had cash balances of over R3 billion on average per month; now living on overdraft. It’s all but collapsed because of lack of governance arising out of the coalition government.”

Coalition governments in SA

In December, an article published on The Conversation said that local government turmoil is evidence that South Africa is not good at coalitions.

South Africa entered the world of coalition politics in earnest in 2016. In the local election in 2016, three major cities found themselves without a majority party in charge. This forced the formation of coalition governments in Johannesburg, the country’s economic capital; Tshwane, the capital city; and Nelson Mandela Bay, a port city in the southeast of the country.

“Over the past month, all three have fallen apart spectacularly. The African National Congress ‘took back’ the City of Johannesburg, the United Democratic Movement’s Mongameli Bobani was unceremoniously booted out as executive mayor in Nelson Mandela Bay, and Stevens Mokgalapa was deposed as Mayor of Tshwane, following an alleged sex scandal, corruption allegations and a water crisis,” read the article in part.

The article states the key to a successful coalition is the rationale of working together.

“A key element for a successful coalition government is the rationale for working together in the first place. Was it merely to get the governing party out? Are parties working together with the aim of bringing administrative and political stability? What did political parties bargain for when the coalitions were formed?”