South Africa

Coalition governments could cause chaos 

Coalition governments could cause chaos following the national election at the end of May, and this will only be exacerbated by the municipal elections in 2026. 

This is feedback from governance expert Dr Harlan Cloete, who told Newzroom Afrika that coalition governments will be especially challenging within local governments. 

While it is largely expected that the ANC will lose its majority following the election, it is unknown how far support for the ruling party will fall below the critical 50% level.

This means that a coalition partnership will have to be struck for the first time since 1994 in order for a ruling government to be formed. 

Cloete said this would be very challenging as it would effectively be the start of a new era in South African politics. 

Furthermore, municipalities and provinces will also be shaken up by new coalitions being formed to run local governments. 

Cloete said that he expects municipalities, in particular, to be predominantly run by coalitions after the 2026 municipal election. 

This is where coalition governments will become very challenging. There are likely to be differing coalitions at the national, provincial, and municipal levels, resulting in unaligned spheres of government. 

In the Western Cape, this is already a problem, with the Democratic Alliance government at the provincial level constantly at odds with ANC-run municipalities or coalitions at the local government level. 

This will only be magnified after 2026 when it will be difficult to create greater alignment between political parties. 

The uncertainty surrounding what the post-election coalition government will look like and how effectively it will be able to govern will negatively impact the South African economy. 

Moody’s Investors Service cautioned that South Africa may struggle to make much more progress on resolving the country’s longstanding challenges if a coalition government emerges after 29 May. 

“The strength or otherwise of the new administration’s mandate – and any concessions to minor parties needed to secure support – could make the already complicated management of fiscal, economic and social policy objectives even more difficult,” said Aurelien Mali, vice president at Moody’s.

Economic growth has been hampered by fraying port and rail networks, crime and state-owned utility Eskom’s inability to meet electricity demand due to poor maintenance and ageing power plants.

“The election raises the possibility that policies from comparatively radical parties, including policies not friendly to investors, will emerge,” Mali said.

“Yet we believe the ANC will remain the dominant political force in South Africa, even within a ruling political coalition, which limits the risks of an abrupt shift from the current mix of economic and financial policies.”


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