Gauteng government wants more accountability for coalitions

06 December 2019 - 13:33 By ZIMASA MATIWANE
Gauteng MEC for co-operative governance and traditional affairs Lebogang Maile.
Gauteng MEC for co-operative governance and traditional affairs Lebogang Maile.
Image: Mabuti Kali © Sowetan

The Gauteng provincial government wants to sponsor new legislation through the National Council of Provinces that will regulate coalition arrangements to ensure stability in municipalities governed through coalitions.

MEC for co-operative governance and traditional affairs in the province Lebogang Maile said regulating coalition arrangements would bind parties to requirements of section 152 of the constitution, which deals with the responsibilities of municipal government towards citizens.

In the City of Tshwane, which is governed through a coalition, Maile referenced several service delivery challenges including water quality, unreliability of water provision, water interruptions, collapse of council meetings, motions of no confidence and a total disrespect for the rules and orders of council, which he credited to creating institutional instability and malfunctioning within the municipality.

“I want to appeal to all parties to conduct themselves in a manner that will uphold the integrity of council precepts, especially in the public eye as this is crucial in ensuring legitimacy,” he said.

This prompted Gauteng premier David Makhura to task Maile with submitting a detailed report to the executive council (exco) on the state of affairs in the City of Tshwane, mainly focusing on finances; service delivery, governance and administration, including fresh allegations of corruption, as well as matters pertaining to the situation regarding the status of the mayor.

“At the heart of the challenges faced by the two metros is the question of leadership. It should be understood that no single political party gained an outright majority (50 + 1) in four of the 11 municipalities in Gauteng post the 2016 local government elections. This resulted in political parties exercising their legal right and prerogative to enter into coalition arrangements, within the four municipalities concerned,” Maile explained.

Maile said the report was deliberated on within the context of identifying a variety of systemic and deep-seated challenges faced by the two strategic metros in the province, namely Tshwane and Johannesburg.

“Further to that, these coalitions by nature are not based on a uniform political programme or formal, binding agreements, to which the public can hold these coalition partners to account. This in turn, has had an adverse effect on the stability and functioning of councils, their capacity to meet their constitutional responsibilities as per section 152 of the constitution and ultimately on their ability to deliver services to citizens,” Maile explained.

Though Maile conceded that coalition arrangements are not an anomaly within a healthy democracy, he said there was an urgent need to tighten accountability to the public and protect their interests through legislation that will enforce binding legal agreements that the public can then use to determine whether their interests are being served or not.

“In so doing, we will bring stability to municipal governance in a coalition arrangement by removing the opportunity for political opportunism whereby parties without a popular mandate from the people collapse governance and bring instability within municipalities through opportunistic motions of no confidence that are not in the interests of advancing service delivery, but rather for the furtherance of narrow, partisan interests,” he added.