GOOD Statement by Brett Herron,
GOOD Secretary-General & Member of Parliament
10 March 2023
The Minister of Cooperative Governance must act in the interests of the country, though not necessarily the short-term ambitions of her political party, the ANC, and urgently introduce a set of regulations under the Municipal Systems Act to stabilise coalition governments.
The regulations must disincentivise day-to-day political horse-trading between elections, put a stop to the practise of electing so-called placeholder mayors while parties haggle over their next moves, and create systems to vet those elected to executive office and ensure they are qualified to be public representatives.
What has unfolded in the Tshwane municipality in recent weeks takes coalition politics to unimaginable new lows.
A mayor, Murunwa Makwarela (Cope), was elected with the support of ANC and EFF councillors, on the back of a secret ballot which led to a witch-hunt (including lie-detector tests, disrupted by EFF members) by the DA and Action SA to find out which of their councillors had voted for the other side.
Then it emerged that Makwarela, who served as Speaker in the previous DA-led government for an extended period, was an unrehabilitated insolvent, and therefore unfit to be a councillor, let alone a Speaker or a Mayor.
That Makwarela was briefly reinstated as Mayor this week after submitting what, on the face of it, appears to be a poor forgery of a court order claiming his rehabilitation – only to resign again – adds insult to injury. It is tantamount to spitting in the face of Tshwane residents.
None of the DA, Action SA, Cope, ANC or EFF evidently bothered to do a background check on their councillor/Speaker/Mayor/coalition partner. Nor is there any official system in place to check the integrity of office-bearers and officials.
Many South Africans are unemployed, live in squalid conditions and can barely afford to eat. Millions of them live in Metros – Tshwane, Johannesburg, Ekurhuleni, Nelson Mandela Bay – battling with rank instability, broken or non-existent systems and totally inadequate service delivery.
In this environment, it is an unspeakable abrogation of responsibility by public representatives for them to focus on power, positions and their own stomachs.
The councillors aren’t going to self-regulate. They must be forced into line by the Minister of Cooperative Governance.
Political parties itching for power, and smelling the blood of the wounded ANC, must beware that their poor behaviour and integrity lapses don’t sour the very optimism they’re trying to cultivate that a national coalition may be a better prospect than the “stability” of an outright majority government.
Brett Herron, GOOD Secretary-General & Member of Parliament
Janke Tolmay, GOOD Media Manager