/ 17 August 2023

Opposition parties agree on moonshot coalition vision, principles and priorities

Moonshot Pact 1

The seven opposition parties involved in pre-election moonshot coalition talks have ended the first day of their discussions with an initial agreement on how they would govern if they ousted the ANC in next year’s national and provincial elections.

They have also agreed to rebrand their pre-election agreement as the Multi-Party Charter for South Africa and have given the nod to more parties joining the pact in a bid to secure 50% plus one of the vote they would need to constitute a government after the poll.

The initiative involves the leaders of the Democratic Alliance (DA), the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP), ActionSA, the Freedom Front Plus, the United Independents Movement, the Spectrum National Party and Isanco, a breakaway from the South African National Civic Organisation.

They have been discussing the coalition proposal, first mooted by DA leader John Steenhuisen in April, for several months and are half way through a two-day convention called to hammer out a pre-election agreement.

Willam Gumede, the chairperson of the talks, said at a briefing on Wednesday night that despite “robust” discussions among the parties, they had secured a “historic” agreement on a number of issues.

The group had agreed on a new name and on a shared vision for a new government to “build a just, inclusive and prosperous South Africa based on opportunity, freedom and security for all its citizens,” he said.

It had also agreed on priorities for a coalition government, which included ending load-shedding, growing the economy, creating jobs and delivering basic services to all through the provision of high quality infrastructure.

The parties also committed to a set of shared governing principles, which included decentralisation of power to the lowest effective level of government, an open market economy and the adoption of policies “guided by evidence that they produce positive results for society”.

Gumede said the party leaders had “showed great maturity” in reaching the initial agreement, which was historic because it was the first of its kind in the post-apartheid era.

The agreement on vision and principles would make it “easier” for the core group of parties to include others in discussions on joining the coalition because it laid out clear terms for their participation.

He said issues such as who would lead the coalition and which other parties would be allowed to join would still have to be discussed during the second day of talks and in the future by the parties.

Gumede said broadening the base of the coalition had been one of the most heavily contested issues during the closed discussions.

The DA had been adamant that the Patriotic Alliance should be kept out of the coalition agreement and that the number of participants should be limited to make for a more effective cooperation agreement.

Both the DA and the IFP leaders have identified the need to mobilise the 14 million dormant and 13 million unregistered voters to secure the numbers they need to constitute a majority.