In the general election of 1924, gen. JBM Hertzog’s National Party and FHP Creswell’s Labor Party joined forces and gen. JC Smuts’ South African Party lifted from the pillows.
Hertzog replaced Smuts as prime minister and Creswell was appointed minister of labour, among other things. Substantial economic change would follow.
Constitutional expert prof. Koos Malan goes so far as to say that this then pact government between an Afrikaans nationalist party and an English socialist party was probably one of the best governments that South Africa has ever had.
But could history repeat itself – ironically exactly a century later – in the 2024 general election?
Political experts and opposition parties agree that there is currently no single political party that can dethrone the ANC on its own.
“South Africa is in deep political trouble. This is inevitably where we find ourselves right now. There will be a coalition government after 2024,” says author and political commentator Prince Mashele.
However, Mashele has his doubts about whether a pact government can work again. “Coalitions are by nature very complicated. There is also no concrete legislation around coalitions.”
RNews earlier reported that seven political parties hoping to dethrone the ANC together will meet next month for a historic convention. These include the DA, FF Plus, IVP, ActionSA, National Freedom Party (NFP), United Independent Movement (UIM) and the Spectrum National Party (SNP).
John Steenhuisen, leader of the DA, says this proposed Moonshot pact offers opposition parties the very best chance to unseat the ANC, keep the EFF out of power and achieve a majority of 50% plus 1 to form a stable new government until to stand.
The opposition leader also believes that the parties in the pact will come “within striking distance” to conquer Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal. “The Northern Cape and the Free State are also in question.”
However, Mashele is concerned that the smaller parties in the so-called dream pact have the ability to destabilize the pact, as the larger parties alone will not be able to secure a 50% majority.
“It’s complicated. A smaller party can always pull its head out and decide to give its votes to the EFF or the ANC. For me, this is the biggest risk around a pact government – how do you trust the smaller parties?”
However, Malan believes that it is entirely possible for seven parties to work together if they are not fighting against each other but rather together against a common opponent.
Mashele believes that much more is needed than the parties’ common dislike of the ANC.
“It is not enough. These parties will have to correct Eskom and supply electricity to the country. These political parties are going to have to tackle unemployment and achieve economic growth. A common hatred for the ANC is not enough.
“Yes, the ANC caused us problems. But these real bread-and-butter problems need concrete policies to be solved.”
‘Convention premature, a big mistake’
Mashele thinks it is a mistake to already host a convention next month to figure out a common vision for a new government.
“Some of the parties attending the convention next month are probably not even going to get a seat in parliament,” points out Mashele. “That’s why you don’t negotiate a coalition agreement before an election. You do it after an election because then you know who has the votes.
“The convention is very premature. They waste each other’s time.”
Mashele says the parties should instead focus their attention on how they are going to gather as many votes as possible. “They must first secure the votes before they can start talking about a coalition government.”
Mashele warns that the political party may also confuse their voters before the election as the voters may not agree with the ideologies of the other parties in the pact.”
Meanwhile, the Moonshot Pact is mobilizing the ANC and EFF to join forces.
“They are making a big mistake,” says Mashele.
Malan says South Africans who are to be found for the so-called Moonshot pact can vote for any party in this pact “as long as it is not for the EFF or the ANC”.
Malan and Mashele believe the ANC is worried about the pact its opposition parties want to form. However, this is not the ruling party’s main concern.
“I think the ANC is firstly worried about the despondency and despondency among black voters who are getting poorer and then secondly worried about the pact,” says Malan.