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Is South Africa ready for a coalition government?

CapeTalk host Kieno Kammies speaks to Melanie Verwoerd, a former ANC MP and SA Ambassador to Ireland, about coalition politics and how it might impact the upcoming elections.

Picture: EWN

CAPE TOWN - In the runup to 2019 general election, CapeTalk host Kieno Kammies takes a look at the some of the various angles related to elections.

Kammies speaks to Melanie Verwoerd, a former African National Congress (ANC) MP and SA Ambassador to Ireland, about coalition politics and how it might impact upcoming elections.

On the question of what it would take for the ANC to lose the election, Verwoerd says one needs to go into demographics because people vote largely along racial lines.

She adds that black South Africans largely vote for the ANC, while a small minority votes for the Economic Freedom Fighters, white South Africans largely vote for the Democratic Alliance and a small minority for the Freedom Front.

There’s then a chase after the two minority groups; coloured and Indian people, Verwoerd says.

“Our voters roll is not segregated according to race, but it usually mirrors what the demographic is in an area. Nationally, African voters will make about 81% of the voters roll, coloured people 9%, white people 8% and Indian people 2%.

“If you combine the aforementioned it’s very hard to see the ANC losing.”

Verwoerd says it seems unlikely that coalition governments would form nationally after 8 May.

“The question we need to ask is whether South Africa is ready for coalition governments? People got very excited about it around local government because they felt that it was breaking the stronghold of the ANC, which it did,” said Verwoerd.

If we look at experiences that South Africa had in local government like Nelson Mandela Bay, these coalitions became incredibly unstable, she says.

“Coalitions are already problematic at local government but imagine if that kind of chaos was at a national level where you can't pass anything, you can't even pass a budget.”

For more information listen to the audio.