Editorial: Tiny parties, big impact

The fractures and fissures in Democratic Alliance-led coalition governments continue to unravel, with Nelson Mandela Bay narrowly passing its budget — on the third attempt. What should have been a doddle was compromised by the Economic Freedom Fighters’ insistence on teaching the DA a lesson for its failure to support the red berets’ motion for land expropriation without compensation in Parliament. 

In Johannesburg, mayor Herman Mashaba was forced to fine-tune his budget after his supposed allies in the EFF objected to what they deemed anti-poor proposals. For the cherry on top, Malema’s party forced Mashaba to suspend his mayoral committee member for health, Mpho Phalatse, for declaring that Jo’burg was a friend of Israel.

Back in Nelson Mandela Bay, mayor Athol Trollip finally got his budget passed after the AIC (that’s the African Independent Congress and not the ANC, as some may have confusingly thought at the ballot box) voted in favour of it.

The AIC is actually in coalition with the ANC in Ekurhuleni, but decided to punish the ruling party in the Eastern Cape for failing to allow the Matatiele local municipality to be incorporated into KwaZulu-Natal.

Much of this would seem to benefit the ANC, but the Ramaphoria train has its own problems. Its rural vote is declining rapidly, threatening its hard-won gains in KwaZulu-Natal. This, in turn, adds impetus to the unbundling of the Ingonyama Trust, which in effect gives control of a large swath of KwaZulu-Natal to King Goodwill Zwelithini. The Kgalema Motlanthe report — looking into legislative changes and gaps since 1994 — suggests that rural people are unhappy with this arrangement, leading the ruling party to intercede while doing a delicate dance around traditional leaders, who are rattling sabres.

All this upheaval on the political scene has delivered disproportionate power into the hands of smaller political parties. Most importantly, it has helped to empower the voter. 

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