South African politics are noisy. Our daily news cycles are dominated by cacophonous stories about corruption scandals, racial tensions and, most recently, the ANC’s mad plans to expropriate land without compensation. While this ensures there is never a dull day in this country, the exceptional level of noise and angst around daily events often obscures some of the longer-term trends playing out behind the scenes. Caught up in the daily vitriol, most of us fail to look behind the veil to see the quiet patterns shaping our collective future. However, recent events in Nelson Mandela Bay have given us a glimpse behind the curtain and have revealed the most important long-term trend playing out in South African society: the gradual but ongoing entrenchment of coalition politics as the soon-to-be default mode of governance. The build-up to the collapse of the EFF-led motion of no confidence in Athol Trollip in his position as mayor of Nelson Mandela Bay could hardly have been uglier. Sho...

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