S.African parties talk coalitions, as president urges unity

AFP , Monday 10 Jun 2024

South African parties were discussing forming a coalition government on Monday, as President Cyril Ramaphosa called on all groups to work together after general elections produced no outright winner.

South African Parliament
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa delivers his State of the nation address in Cape Town South Africa. AP


Ramaphosa's African National Congress (ANC) won 40 percent of the vote -- its lowest score ever -- on May 29 and, for the first time since the advent of democracy in 1994, it needs the backing of other parties to govern.

"As the country prepares for a new democratic administration, all parties need to work together to sustain the momentum of reform, growth and transformation," Ramaphosa wrote in his weekly newsletter.

The ANC has already indicated it wants to form a government of national unity with a broad group of opposition parties, ranging from the far right to the hard left.

The proposal met a cool reception from some last week, with the radical leftist Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) initially dismissing the idea of joining hands with rivals holding radically different political views, such as the centre-right Democratic Alliance (DA).

But talks continued over the weekend, with the deadline to find an agreement fast approaching.

The DA's federal council was meeting on Monday to decide a way forward after negotiations with the ANC.

The decision-making body of the Zulu nationalist Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) was also due to discuss coalition proposals.

The new parliament is to meet within a week and one of its first tasks will be to elect a president to form a new government.

The ANC will have 159 members in the 400-seat National Assembly, down from 230 in 2019.

The DA won 87 seats with a liberal, free-market agenda.

The EFF secured 39 lawmakers and supports land redistribution and the nationalisation of key economic sectors. The IFP, which had struck a pre-election deal with the DA, gained 17 seats.

Meanwhile, former president Jacob Zuma's uMkhonto weSizwe (MK) party, which came third in the election, winning 14.6 percent of the vote and 58 seats, said it was to file a court appeal to prevent the new parliament from convening, pending a separate complaint over alleged election irregularities.

"Allowing the National Assembly to sit amidst such significant doubts on the legal validity of the election process would be a betrayal of the electorate's trust," said MK spokesman Nhlamulo Ndhlela.

The party had earlier said it would not back an ANC-led government if Ramaphosa remained at the helm. But the ANC plans to keep him.

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