If we must have coalitions, an ANC-DA union is our best bet

Ideas

If we must have coalitions, an ANC-DA union is our best bet

If either has SA's interests at heart they should declare that under no circumstances would they join with the EFF

Peter Bruce


Suddenly, debt ratings agency Moody’s Investors Service is saying a lot about SA, but fortunately doing very little. It is the last of the big three ratings agencies still running us (our government bonds) at investment grade. We love Moody’s.
A few weeks ago it took everyone by surprise by saying absolutely nothing when it was expected to release a ratings update. But instead, total silence. It followed that up with an expression of concern about the national debt and Eskom and then this week it appeared again, suggesting that it expects confidence to rise after the elections and that, in the words of senior credit officer Lucie Villa, despite our slow growth and fiscal erosion our credit profile would remain more or less in line with other countries like us, one notch above junk status.
That’s just brilliant. But, I wonder, has Villa thought about what else might happen after the elections? There are bound to be coalition talks of some kind, unless the ANC sweeps the board again except, as always, in the Western Cape. There, the ANC has sent in a team of almost perfect vote repellents to campaign for it, including Ace Magashule and Tony Yengeni. It’s a gift to the DA. Central casting could not have done better.
But what happens if the DA and EFF claw ANC support to below 50% in Gauteng? None of the parties is clear about who they would partner with. That is typical, I suppose. No one wants their hands tied. But is there no place for principle? If the EFF entered into a coalition with the ANC or DA to run Gauteng, would Villa still be so sanguine?
The entry of the EFF and its far left-wing economic policies into any level of government after these elections would be a profoundly (ratings and otherwise) negative moment for the country and its future.
I’ve seen EFF leader Julius Malema reported as saying different things about coalitions. The first was that he would support a coalition partner (unnamed) in Gauteng as long as the EFF got mayoralty in a metro in the province in return. Both the ANC and DA control metros in the province. The second was that the EFF under no circumstances would do deals with the DA. But it’s hard to tell. The DA has mayors in Johannesburg and Pretoria because the EFF doesn’t join the ANC to vote them out.
Despite insisting that it has, the DA has not publicly and unequivocally ruled out a coalition with the EFF anywhere, though relations between the two parties have obviously cooled since the heady days of their joint war on the Jacob Zuma administration.
The EFF doesn’t rule out a coalition with the ANC, and the ANC hasn’t yet ruled out a coalition with the EFF anywhere, though ANC president Cyril Ramaphosa was mildly critical of EFF claims that it is about to become the government during a campaign swing in Limpopo on Tuesday.
The only thing off the table completely, it seems, are coalitions between a reforming ANC and a transforming DA. That is our tragedy because if we have to have coalitions, the ANC and DA as partners would be best for investment, confidence, growth and jobs by a country mile.
If either has the long-term interest of the country at heart they would both at least declare, firmly and publicly, that under no circumstances would they form coalitions with the EFF. Making it clear now would be a good idea. Practically the whole world would welcome it. The DA already has bitter experience of EFF partnership, in Nelson Mandela Bay.
For the ANC, the EFF is like one of its wings, but the EFF has begun increasingly to behave in support of the Zuma faction in the ANC, whatever that is supposed to be.
The Zuma faction’s alternative to Ramaphosa seems to be Magashule, a real man with a plan. Or perhaps, if the numbers work out on May 8, Malema himself. I doubt it’ll happen, but a return to the ANC fold might be the real dream – provided Ramaphosa is “removed” soon after a poll victory, which unlikely prospect is nonetheless by now the conviction of the day in the frightened suburbs.
People should not be so silly. It is going to be really, but really hard, if not impossible, to get rid of Ramaphosa if he achieves a decent national win next month. Read Steven Friedman’s column in Business Day (Zuma Faction and EFF are Playing the Numbers Game, April 17). God knows I’ve tried to make the same point 100 times. He does it better.
The EFF exists because the ANC hasn’t done its job properly. A reforming Ramaphosa is the first real threat it has faced. We and the markets will soon know whether the country wants reform or revolution.
• Bruce is a former editor of Business Day and the Financial Mail.

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