Political parties seem to be already pronouncing on their preferred coalition partners ahead of this year’s local government elections. Judging from South Africa’s politics in recent years, coalitions might be the country’s norm following the decline of the African National Congress (ANC) which has been in government since the end of apartheid in 1994.

The party has been going through a gradual decline in votes from a high of over 60% in previous years, slipping to below 50% in 2016 in the cities of Tshwane, Johannesburg, and Nelson Mandela Bay. As South Africa’s official opposition, the Democratic Alliance (DA) shows no sign of benefitting from the ANC’s limping stature, this has forced political parties to enter in “marriages of convenience”.

Professor Susan Booysen, Mistra Director of Research and the editor of “Marriages of Inconvenience, the politics of Coalition in South Africa”, spoke to SABC News about the politics of coalitions.

“We take the ANC as the pivot of these coalitions as it is still in many respects in South Africa a dominant party system and it will only change to multi-partyism if this ANC starts shedding votes. We know that it has started shedding votes but it’s on a jagged curve and even up and down that’s when it comes to local elections it seems that the curve goes to below that outright 50% in many other cases. So we look at the different metropolitan cases in South Africa and look at coalitions generally in South Africa.”

Professor Susan Booysen on SABC News: 28 October 2021