Co-operation, rather than contestation, will be key to securing a peaceful post-election transition

Co-operation, rather than contestation, will be key to securing a peaceful post-election transition in the aftermath of the May 29 national poll. 

South Africa can take heart at another overwhelmingly free and fair election, a notable achievement in a world where many are still denied democratic freedom. Despite a few inevitable glitches, last month’s election received the stamp of approval from independent monitors. 

However the real challenge still lies ahead, with parties required to work together, now more than ever, if the new-look government is to overcome South Africa’s many challenges. 

The election results require former political adversaries to negotiate a ruling coalition which will hopefully go beyond a marriage of convenience; what our society urgently needs is agreement around several crucial policy areas, such as service delivery and social justice, to enable government to deliver on its developmental mandate.

While some are jittery about the election result and the power shift it represents, others are optimistic about the new phase of political dialogue likely to flow from coalition talks. Key policy issues will have to be debated, and compromises made. It is not unreasonable to hope that, as a result, we may get clarity regarding matters of national importance.

Although it is too soon to know our policy direction, coalition government is unlikely to be business as usual.

Elections usually serve as a reminder that actions speak louder than words, particularly in relation to service delivery.

Whatever the outcome the Cape Chamber remains committed to working with our partners in both the public and private sector with a view to growing the economy. We remain convinced that creating sustainable jobs and an enabling business environment are twin imperatives that should underpin government action in the coming years. We have a crippling national unemployment rate, pervasive crime, and a stuttering public service administration in urgent need of renewal. We also have vast natural resources, extensive infrastructure, and a largely untapped treasure trove of human potential ready to burst open. 

Will the new coalition government provide the tonic South Africa needs to advance?

We must hope for the best.

John Lawson
CEO of the Cape Chamber of Commerce and Industry