GNU revolution or failed marriage?

BARELY a week after it was announced the ‘Government of National Unity’ (GNU) appears to have faltered. At contention is the difference between 8 cabinet posts or six for the Democratic Alliance and the tricky subject of who is to be named as deputy president alongside many regional agreements within provincial government.

Of course there were bound to be hiccups, the two major players at the center of the emerging coalition hold diametrically opposed views on many issues, including land distribution, taxation, and foriegn policy but with some convergence around democratic centralism, and especially the urgent need to maintain a stable economic outlook — one that allows for a thriving market economy capable of supporting a social wage — avoiding the pitfall of inflation and Rand volatility.

No sooner had the ink dried on the GNU pact (which includes up to 10 parties with over 60% of the popular vote), newly re-elected President Ramaphosa was calling for a joint sitting of Parliament amidst the political deadlock. This signals an extraordinary start to our new Parliament and the seventh administration, which if it fails to reach consensus on the vital subject of the cabinet, could make way for the eighth and nineth before the year is out, with the resulting inability to pass legislation.

Any thought that the ‘grand old party’ which has ruled South Africa for thirty years can simply absorb its detractors, or rule by commandeering votes or gerrymandering Parliamentary seats needs to be dispelled forthwith.

Following the ANC historical loss of a ruling majority during the May election, ‘business as usual’ for the party, which has a history of absorbing opposition and coalescing around the so-called ‘tripartite alliance’ is now a practical impossiblity.

The COSATU labour federation which formed a key component of the previous election-winning strategy, may be extremely unhappy at the outcome of the election, since the electorate apparently favours ‘economy over ideology’.

The South African Communist Party (SACP), the other partner besides the trade union holds no actual seats in parliament, which begs the question, has this tired formula run it’s course? Is the labour left of old, a mirage congregating around a once formidible oasis of BEE patronage?

This as the rise of right-wing factions under ultra-Nationalist Jacob Zuma, signals opposition politics, especially when it comes to the left-right cleavage, is inexorably altered?

At the time of writing, the leader of the official opposition has yet to be announced, but I dare say those amongst the rank and file will be eyeing any instability at the centre of politics with much glee, perhaps anticipation — upsetting the ANC apple-cart would bring exoneration for Zuma, unable to take up a Parliamentary seat due to a criminal conviction — several of his so-named MK party MPs, including impeached judge John Hlophe, would certainly face charges if they were not elected.

One can only hope and pray that our nation’s politicians are able to set aside their differences in the interests of the country.

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