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SU’s manifesto analysis helps parties find common ground during coalition talks
Author: Corporate Communication & Marketing / Korporatiewe Kommunikasie & Bemarking [Anél Lewis]
Published: 06/06/2024

With coalition talks in full swing, Stellenbosch University's (SU) Policy Innovation Lab has analysed the manifestos of the four largest parties to find out whether there is common ground on some of the larger issues of national interest. These include the implementation of national health insurance, land reform policies and the basic income grant.

This “cheat sheet" is now available to parties and the public to better understand where the ANC, DA, EFF and the uMkhonto we Sizwe (MK) Party agree and disagree, explains Prof Willem Fourie, head of the Policy Innovation Lab.

While there is agreement on several issues, notably the need for policies to improve early childhood development and numeracy and literacy at schools, and the importance of better training for SAPS staff to deal with gender-based violence, the parties differ on many others.

Fourie highlighted the methodological challenges faced during the analysis. “Each manifesto had a unique structure and internal logic, making direct comparisons challenging. We had to develop a system to cluster topics thematically without relying on the individual logic of any manifesto," he explains.

To overcome these challenges, the team employed the seventeen Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as a framework for clustering topics. This international development agenda, which South Africa subscribes to, provided a consistent basis for comparison.

Another critical aspect of the analysis was determining the levels of convergence among the manifesto topics. “We needed to strike a balance between simplicity and ensuring the qualitative analysis was reliable," Fourie notes. The team devised a tagging system categorising topics into 'strong congruence,' 'moderate congruence,' and 'low congruence'. Entries with insufficient information were marked accordingly.

Dr Itai Makone, who contributed to the analysis, emphasises its purpose: “The tool is also meant to assist political parties in understanding the topics and themes they agree on with other parties, show areas that lack information, and help develop ways to build consensus where disagreement exits."

  • To read more about the manifesto comparison, click here.