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ANC Holds Talks On Forming SA’s Next Government

THE African National Congress (ANC) engaged in high-stakes internal discussions on Tuesday, deliberating which parties to approach to form South Africa’s next government. With a choice between Marxists and free-marketeers, the ANC faces a complex decision.

After 30 years of dominance since Nelson Mandela’s historic 1994 election win, the ANC lost its majority in last week’s election. Although it remains the largest party, it can no longer govern alone. Voters punished the former liberation movement for high levels of poverty, joblessness, inequality, rampant crime, power cuts, and corruption. These issues will challenge the next government.


The ANC will have 159 seats out of 400 in the new National Assembly, while the free-market Democratic Alliance (DA) will hold 87 seats, the populist uMkhonto we Sizwe (MK) 58, the Marxist Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) 39, and the socially conservative Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) 17.

The new parliament must convene by June 16, and one of its first acts will be to choose the nation’s president. Currently, it appears that the incumbent, ANC leader Cyril Ramaphosa, will remain in power. However, he may face pressure to quit or prepare for succession given the ANC’s poor showing.

A working committee of 27 ANC officials met on Tuesday to draw up options to present to the party’s National Executive Committee (NEC) on Wednesday. The Daily Maverick, a South African news website, published details from three internal ANC discussion documents outlining potential scenarios.

According to one of those documents, the preferred option was a confidence-and-supply agreement in which the ANC would hold executive power, with some positions for the IFP. The DA would have the upper hand in parliament, holding the Speaker’s seat and powerful committee positions.

Under that scenario, the DA and IFP would agree to support the ANC minority government on key votes such as the budget or any confidence motions, in exchange for policy concessions and involvement in the legislative process.

The second-best option was a coalition government incorporating the ANC, DA, and IFP. The document indicated this would risk alienating some ANC supporters and finding enough common ground on policy would be a challenge.

The least favoured option was a government of national unity bringing in a much wider array of parties. This scenario would carry the risk of instability and collapse, or that one or more parties withdraw, leaving the ANC effectively in a coalition with the EFF and MK parties.

An ANC spokesperson declined to comment on the content of the Daily Maverick report.

An alliance between the ANC and either the EFF or MK has been described as a ‘doomsday scenario’ by the DA and would be alarming to financial markets and foreign investors.

The EFF, led by Julius Malema, a former leader of the ANC’s youth wing who broke away from the party, advocates nationalising mines and banks and seizing land from white farmers to redistribute it to Black farmers.

MK, which performed strongly, especially in former President Jacob Zuma’s home province of KwaZulu-Natal, also advocates nationalisations and land seizures, as well as scrapping the constitution and introducing a parliamentary chamber made up of traditional rulers.

The party is seen by many analysts as a vehicle for Zuma to seek revenge on the ANC after he was forced to quit as president in 2018 following a string of corruption scandals. He has since become an implacable enemy of Ramaphosa.

The DA presents itself as a champion of business and free-market economics and favours scrapping some of the ANC’s flagship Black empowerment measures, which it says have not worked. Often accused of representing the interests of the privileged white minority, the DA rejects that label and says good governance benefits all South Africans.

All of the opposition parties have been vitriolic in their denunciations of the ANC during the election period, and inter-party talks are expected to be very challenging.

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