/ 3 July 2023

Date set for DA ‘moonshot pact’ convention

John Steenhuisen 3088 Dv
DA leader John Steenhuisen. Photo by Delwyn Verasamy/M&G

Opposition parties involved in talks around  a “moonshot coalition” aimed at unseating the ANC in next year’s national and provincial elections will hold a national convention on 16 and 17 August to try and negotiate a pre-election agreement.

Leaders of seven parties — the Democratic Alliance (DA), the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP), the Freedom Front Plus (FFF+), ActionSA, the National Freedom Party (NFP), the United Independent Movement (UIM) and the Spectrum National Party (SNP) — confirmed the date for the meeting in a joint statement on Monday.

The proposed pre-election coalition was first mooted by DA leader John Steenhuisen after his re-election in April. Party leaders have been meeting weekly for several months in an attempt to iron out initial differences in approach and work out a general framework within which to operate.

Much of the discussion had been centred around who would participate, with the DA initially arguing that parties in alliance with the ANC at local government level should not be allowed to join.

However, the parties agreed that this should not be a barrier to participation, opening the door for the NFP, which works with the ANC and EFF in eThekwini and other KwaZulu-Natal municipalities.

In the statement, party leaders said that coming elections presented an “unprecedented opportunity” to remove the ANC from government and also placed a “profound responsibility” on their shoulders to provide a “viable path” to achieving the 50%+1 majority needed to form a government without the ANC, the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) and the small parties allied with them.

They said that through “good faith and thorough engagement” the exploratory meetings between party leaders had been able to lay the foundation for a national convention at which opposition leaders would “come together to negotiate a pre-election pact.”

The basic agenda agreed upon would include values and principles which would guide a “pact” government; the formulation of a joint programme of action; rules of engagement for the 2024 election campaign and an agreement on a formula for the formation of a cabinet at the elections.

The party leaders said that these issues were all “critical for forming a stable pact government that can deliver”.

They said the convention would be held in the same venue at Kempton Park where the Convention for Democratic South Africa (Codesa) negotiations which laid the foundation for South Africa’s transition to democracy were held.

“This venue was deliberately chosen for its symbolic significance, being the same venue where the Codesa negotiations took place that laid the foundation for South Africa’s transition to democracy,” they said.

“It is therefore fitting that we use this venue to host another historic first, where opposition party leaders will get together around one table to work out a common vision for a new government.”

They said party leaders were participating voluntarily and would take a formal decision on joining the pre-election agreement once negotiations on its form had been taken at the convention.

Build One South Africa (Bosa) and the African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP) had attended meetings as observers and were still to decide whether or not to attend the convention in August.

“There are no predetermined outcomes and negotiations at the convention will be robust, honest and constructive. While there is still much work to be done, the people of South Africa can take great heart from the knowledge that, for the first time ever, opposition leaders are working in unison to provide hope and a new way forward for the country we all love,” they said.