Enshrined in the founding provisions of South Africa’s democratic constitution is the commitment to a “multi-party system of democratic government, to ensure accountability, responsiveness and openness”. Today, South Africa is entering a new form of multi-party governance through the emergence of coalition governments in municipalities across the country. Following the Constitutional Court’s June 2020 decision to strike down parts of the Electoral Act of 1998, there have also been critical discussions about whether our national and provincial electoral framework of proportional representation fosters the accountability and responsiveness to which our constitution aspires.
Both the nascent era of widespread coalition governance and the debate over electoral reform occur while the confidence that citizens have in our democracy is depreciating. In order to revive South Africans’ belief in our democratic system, we must renew that system to improve accountability. Many of the policy proposals that Good Governance Africa (GGA) considers in this briefing already exist, but we evaluate them in specific relation to how they can deepen political accountability in South Africa. The upshot is that a shift in approach from our institutions, political parties, civil society and citizens themselves is required.