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ANC set for ‘complicated’ coalition talks after losing parliamentary majority in South Africa

todayJune 1, 2024 2

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ANC set for ‘complicated’ coalition talks after losing parliamentary majority in South Africa

The chair of the ruling African National Congress (ANC) in South Africa says it can “talk to everybody and anybody”, as it looks likely to need a coalition partner after losing its parliamentary majority.

The once-dominant party of the late Nelson Mandela has seen its support slashed, receiving just over 40% in the landmark national election, with 99% of the votes counted.

The final results have not yet been formally declared by the independent electoral commission that ran the contest in the nation of 62 million people – but the ANC cannot pass 50%.

It means a flurry of negotiations are set to take place which are likely to be complicated.

ANC supporters at a rally in Johannesburg. Pic: Reuters

Image:
ANC supporters at a rally in Johannesburg. Pic: Reuters

The main opposition party, John Steenhuisen’s Democratic Alliance (DA), was on 21%, uMkhonto we Sizwe (MK), a new party led by former president Jacob Zuma, got 14%, while the far-left Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), led by ex-ANC youth leader Julius Malema, received 9%.

In total, more than 50 parties took part in the election, many of them with tiny shares of the vote.

The ANC, which freed the country from apartheid in the early 1990s, has won every previous national election by a landslide since the historic 1994 vote that ended white minority rule.

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Why has it all gone wrong for the ANC?

But over the last decade, its support has dwindled amid widespread poverty, a stagnating economy, rising unemployment, and power and water shortages.

The official unemployment rate in South Africa is among the highest in the world at 32%.

The poverty disproportionately affects black people, who make up 80% of the population and have been the core of the ANC’s support for years.

Read more:
Mandela would turn in his grave at his country today
South Africa’s political landscape is shifting

ANC supporters dance outside a polling station during the election. Pic: Reuters

Image:
ANC supporters dance outside a polling station during the election. Pic: Reuters

There will now be an urgent focus on coalition talks as parliament needs to elect a president within 14 days of the final election results being officially declared.

A great sense of uncertainty in South Africa

This is definitely unchartered territory for South Africa, especially for the African National Congress (ANC) which has not been this unpopular since it led the country to freedom from white minority apartheid rule in 1994.

There is still a great sense of uncertainty, as parties turn their attention to now imminent coalition talks.

This will be the first time that South Africa sees a coalition government formed in its democratic history.

So who will the ANC, which still has the largest share of the votes, choose to team up with?

One option is the left-wing Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), led by Julius Malema. He has revealed he would be willing to enter talks with the ANC, with the priority being forming a government as soon as possible.

The EFF is a very radical group economically, so there is some fear about the potentially destabilising impact of an ANC/EFF coalition, at a time when South Africa’s currency the rand is already quite vulnerable.

What is clear is that the ex-president Jacob Zuma, with his new MK party, has no intention of entering a coalition with his former ANC party.

Official results will come on Sunday after which coalition negotiations will intensify.

President Cyril Ramaphosa, of the ANC, is looking to be re-elected for a second and final term.

“We can talk to everybody and anybody,” said Gwede Mantashe, the ANC chair and current mines and energy minister, as he dodged a question from reporters about who the party was discussing a possible coalition deal with.

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa. Pic: AP

Image:
President Cyril Ramaphosa is looking to be re-elected for a second and final term. Pic: AP

ANC chair Gwede Mantashe. Pic: Reuters

Image:
ANC chair Gwede Mantashe. Pic: Reuters

Far-left leader Julius Malema, whose EFF party has got 9%, said: “We have achieved our mission… to bring the ANC below 50%. We want to humble the ANC.”

“We are going to negotiate with the ANC” for a possible coalition deal, he said, although that would not be quite enough to clinch a majority without including another party on the current count.

“The way to rescue South Africa is to break the ANC’s majority and we have done that,” said main opposition leader John Steenhuisen.

Meanwhile, MK party spokesperson Nhlamulo Ndlela said: “We are willing to negotiate with the ANC, but not the ANC of Cyril Ramaphosa.”

EFF leader Julius Malema. Pic: Reuters

Image:
EFF leader Julius Malema claims he is going to negotiate with the ANC. Pic: Reuters

The strong performance of Jacob Zuma’s MK party, especially in his home province of KwaZulu-Natal, was one of the main reasons the ANC failed to secure a majority.

One option for the ANC could be a “government of national unity” involving a broad spectrum of many parties, rather than a formal coalition between a few, say analysts.

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But Mr Malema said the EFF was against that idea and preferred to be part of a coalition.

Nearly 28 million South Africans were registered to vote and turnout is expected to be around 60%, according to figures from the independent electoral commission.

Written by: Newsroom

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