South Africa's IFP party says it will join a unity government, a step toward ending deadlock

AP , Wednesday 12 Jun 2024

The leader of South Africa's Inkatha Freedom Party said Wednesday it will join a proposed government of national unity, a step toward ending the country's political deadlock after the long-ruling African National Congress lost its parliamentary majority in last month's election.

Voters queue to cast their ballots for general elections in Alexandra, near Johannesburg, South Afri
Voters queue to cast their ballots for general elections in Alexandra, near Johannesburg, South Africa, on May 29, 2024. AP


The announcement by Velenkosini Hlabisa means an agreement between some major parties to form a coalition government with the ANC becomes more likely ahead of a Friday deadline when South Africa's new Parliament will sit for the first time since the May 29 election and attempt to elect a president.

The ANC had been the governing party for 30 years since the end of the apartheid system of white minority rule in 1994 but only received 40% of the vote in this election. It remains the biggest party but needs to form an agreement with others to govern and reelect President Cyril Ramaphosa for a second and final term.

South Africans vote for parties in national elections and they get seats in Parliament according to their share of the vote. Lawmakers then elect the president of Africa's most industrialized country.

The ANC proposed forming a government of national unity last week instead of a narrower coalition with one or two parties and invited all 17 other parties represented in Parliament to be part of it. Some have refused.

Hlabisa told reporters that the IFP was willing to join a unity government that includes the ANC and the Democratic Alliance, South Africa's main opposition party that received the second largest share of the vote.

The IFP will do it "for the sake of our country and a stable government,” Hlabisa said. The party draws most of its support from the Zulu ethnic group.

The centrist Democratic Alliance has indicated it would also be willing to join a unity government but hasn't made a final announcement while it holds talks with the ANC over the details.

The ANC, DA and IFP would together hold a clear majority of seats.

Two other major parties, the far-left Economic Freedom Fighters and the new MK Party of former President Jacob Zuma, have refused to join the unity agreement. MK has filed court papers to halt the first meeting of Parliament and has objected to the results of the election, claiming there were irregularities.

South Africa's independent electoral commission conceded there were logistical problems and noted objections by several parties, but officially announced the results on June 2 and said the election was free and fair. Independent observers also declared it free and fair.

MK said its 58 new lawmakers would not attend Parliament if it goes ahead on Friday. However, even if MK boycotts, South Africa’s constitution says only a third out of Parliament's 400 lawmakers need to be present for a quorum and the vote to elect the president would proceed.

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