South Africa’s opposition parties, which formed coalitions to wrest control of a number of cities from the ruling African National Congress in last year’s municipal elections, are now considering a joint campaign ahead of national and provincial votes in 2024.

The Democratic Alliance, the largest opposition party, and several smaller rivals have begun negotiating a framework for cooperation to maximize their collective support. A key prize would be to secure control of Gauteng province, the country’s economic hub that includes Johannesburg and Pretoria and the one where the ANC majority is seen as most at risk.

The opposition coalitions that won control of Johannesburg, the neighboring Ekurhuleni region and Pretoria were aware that their alliances would be a “pilot project for 2024”, said Mpho Falatse, the mayor of Johannesburg and a senior DA member, in an interview on 15 August. . Officials needed to demonstrate their ability to “bring cohesion,” she said.

The ANC has ruled Africa’s most industrialized country since the end of white minority rule in 1994 and controls all nine provinces except the Western Cape, which is ruled by the DA. Its support fell below 50% for the first time in the last municipal elections, a backlash against disorganized urban governance, high unemployment and a lack of basic services.

Details of how the opposition parties could work together, Falatse said, are still being discussed.

“Do we go into coalition and sell the coalition, or do we go in as separate parties, and then how do you show differentiation without destabilizing the governments that you have?” she said. “It’s a difficult balancing act. This will require a lot of technical work.”

ActionSA, the party that was founded by former Johannesburg mayor Herman Mashaba and won 16% of the city’s vote in the local government vote, has ruled out running a joint campaign.

“We offer our unique solutions to the challenges the country is facing,” said Bongani Baloyi, its provincial head. “But we are mindful that when we campaign at this stage, we must do so in a way that does not disrupt, disrupt or even threaten the stability of our coalition governments.”

Phalatse sees immigration as one of the key issues of the 2024 campaign. ActionSA has taken a tough stance on illegal migrants and the ANC recently followed suit by introducing new legislation to control the flow of foreigners from the southern African region.

“The most contentious thing in the coalition right now is the issue of migration and how we deal with undocumented migrants,” Fallace said. “We all agree that we want people to be legal because it has planning and budget implications when we don’t know who’s in town. What we don’t agree on is how we’re going to move from here to there.”

Johannesburg officially has a population of 6 million.

“There is always a gap between supply and demand because you have people who are missing” and are not covered by the National Treasury’s budget allocations, Falatse said. “It’s almost like we’re set up to fail.”

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