Governance Held Hostage By Small Parties

The failure of the eThekwini Council to hold its scheduled monthly meeting because of haggling within the ruling coalition as to who should be appointed deputy mayor illustrates exactly where the priorities of certain elements of this Council lie (The Mercury, January 27).

Although the position of deputy mayor is traditional, it is largely a sinecure. When Fawzia Peer was deputy mayor, there were occasions when she was not appointed to act as mayor.

But such considerations are not what matters. The scrap over who gets to be deputy mayor is all about remuneration, perks, power and patronage which supersede the interests of those whose revenue floats the Metro’s boat.

Whilst theoretically coalitions broaden democratic representivity in the exercise of power, the eThekwini coalition is proving otherwise. In the first place, most of the ANC’s twelve coalition partners are single PR seat parties, representing less than 0,05% of the electorate. Yet with the sniff of an opportunity to become kingmakers and the prospect of some reward in the process, governance has become a hostage to their manoeuvring.

Legislation is needed to prescribe a basic minimum of electoral support a party needs to gain in order to qualify for representation in government. On that basis, the unseemly squabble over the deputy mayor’s post in eThekwini might have been resolved with less disruption and prevarication.

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