Why SA needs a pro-free market coalition

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This article was first published by BizNews on 9 June 2024

Regardless of which form the final ruling coalition takes, for South Africa to thrive the new government must push for more liberty and a freer market.

The African National Congress (ANC), which has historically stood against the free market and continually eroded South Africans freedoms, has experienced its biggest electoral loss in its entire history – dropping well below 50%. The ANC has been left with only 159 seats in the National Assembly, down from 230 in 2019.

The Democratic Alliance (DA), which is pro-free markets and generally pro-liberty, has grown to 87 seats.

But while the ANC by itself can no longer domineer and push anti-market legislation, South Africa stands at a precarious crossroads. The biggest winners of this election are not the pro-democratic and pro-freedom parties of the DA and its allies, but Zuma’s uMkhonto weSizwe Party (MK); an ANC splinter party that may prove to be a tremendous threat to our democracy and society.

The MK is led by Jacob Zuma, an ex-president embroiled in corruption scandals and rape accusations. Many analysts have likened the party to a personality cult that exists to push Zuma’s agenda, keep him out of prison, and continue to enrich his family. Others have accused the MK as being a crude expression of Zulu tribalism. The MK was also reportedly backed by Russian misinformation campaigns, that pushed lies about the DA and other opponents on social media.

Regardless of the veracity of these analyses, the MK now boasts 58 seats in the National Assembly, and a majority of 45.35% of the votes in KwaZulu-Natal. The MK now hold the keys to power in South Africa.

If the ANC accedes to Zuma’s demands, then an ANC-MK coalition will have the seats needed to form a majority government. What will follow is likely more looting, a push for drastically illiberal reforms that preference tribal chieftains and customary law over democracy and the rule of law, and a dispensation far worse than anything we’ve seen so far.

The alternative may be even worse. Dubbed the “Doomsday Coalition” by the DA, an alliance between the ANC, Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), and smaller ANC proxy parties like Al Jama-ah (who helped the ANC seize the Johannesburg mayorship), and the Patriotic Alliance (PA), could also allow the ANC to form a disastrous coalition.

The EFF, notably, is a radical Marxist-Leninist and avowedly racist revolutionary party that is dedicated to destroying private property rights, and violently “decolonising” the country. Malema’s constant singing of the hate-song, “Kill the Boer,” is testament to their desire for violence.

An ANC-EFF coalition would see the already socialist ANC being pushed to embrace its anti-free market policies wholeheartedly. Private sector involvement in Eskom, which has helped minimise the threat of loadshedding, will end. Parastatals will be continually centralised rather than their essential responsibilities placed in the hands of the more competent private sector. And expropriation without compensation will proceed.

The problem with an ANC-EFF coalition, as well as an ANC-MK coalition, is not just in the policies and ideologies that said coalitions would push, but in their instability. The EFF has misbehaved in every single local coalition to which it has been party. The MK will unlikely be any different and will make far too many demands that the ANC cannot abide; perhaps even pushing for the expulsion of Ramaphosa at president.

It is a good and bad thing that both these doomsday coalitions are likely unsustainable and will not be able to get off the ground. But that leaves us with only one other real option.

The notion of an ANC-DA coalition has become increasingly popular. Many voters have expressed their wish for the government to contain the symbolic liberators of the ANC, and the competence of the DA. But unfortunately, this coalition will still be bad for South Africa.

The ANC will subsume the DA for its necessary seats, while the DA will refuse to rock the boat to maintain stability. Corruption and misgovernance will continue, with the DA being lumped in with the incompetent ANC. The DA will be painted with the same brush as the ANC, and be doomed to fade into irrelevancy come next election.

For the long-term survival of South Africa’s democracy a formal ANC-DA coalition cannot be allowed to happen. But the ANC and DA can enter into another arrangement to prevent the doomsday coalitions.

The DA should push for a confidence and supply arrangement, whereby the DA allows the ANC to form a minority government with their consent in exchange for key parliamentary positions and reforms.

This gives the DA an opportunity to make demands in exchange for the ANC remaining in power; a worthy trade-off to prevent ANC domination with worse partners. In exchange for allowing the ANC to setup a government, the DA should push for reforms that will equip South Africa’s free market to flourish.

The NHI Act should be overturned and nipped in the bud. Eskom and Transnet should be privatised. Perhaps, the DA could even try its hand at pushing for BEE to be abolished.

There is a host of legislation and regulations that have ensured that South Africa cannot grow or prosper. Eliminating any bit of it will help immensely to grow our economy and eliminate unemployment.

The DA has the greatest opportunity in our history to push for real, substantive change. Let us just hope that the negotiations are successful, and that we come out of this election freer than we entered it.

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The views expressed in the article are the author’s and are not necessarily shared by the members of the Foundation. This article may be republished without prior consent but with acknowledgement to the author.

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