• D.C.
  • BXL
  • Lagos
  • Dubai
  • Beijing
  • SG
rotating globe
  • D.C.
  • BXL
  • Lagos
Semafor Logo
  • Dubai
  • Beijing
  • SG


Updated Jun 1, 2024, 1:31pm EDT
africa

South Africa’s main opposition parties rule out coalition partnership

Reuters/Rogan Ward/File Photo
PostEmailWhatsapp
Title icon

The Scoop

JOHANNESBURG – The South African political party led by former President Jacob Zuma will not work with the ruling African National Congress party in a coalition government unless President Cyril Ramaphosa steps down, a senior party official told Semafor Africa.

It follows an election in which the ruling African National Congress looks set to lose its parliamentary majority following Wednesday’s election. On Friday, it had secured 42% of the votes, with more than half the ballot papers counted — well below the 50% it would need to govern alone.

The uMkhonto weSizwe Party (MK Party) is on course to be the third biggest party. Dudu Zuma, a member of MK’s leadership committee and the former president’s daughter, told Semafor Africa the party would “definitely not” enter a coalition with the ANC if Ramaphosa led it or with the main opposition Democratic Alliance (DA).

AD

Ms Zuma said the party would prefer to talk to “Black progressive parties” who were “like minded” and shared MK’s stance in calling for “land redistribution, free education, plus the nationalization of mines and the Reserve Bank.”

She said MK had not begun coalition talks. “Most of us are waiting for the final results so that we know where we’re bargaining from, because numbers will matter,” she said, speaking at the election results center in the town of Midrand, near Johannesburg.

The main opposition Democratic Alliance looks set to remain the country’s second largest party. John Steenhuisen, its leader, said his party would not want to enter into what he called a “doomsday coalition” and could ultimately be the “least worst option.”

AD

”The very worst thing for our economy, our people, would be a doomsday coalition with the ANC, EFF, MK or a combination of those,” he told Semafor Africa. He said it was important to prevent such a coalition because it would cause disinvestment, capital flight and a massive loss of confidence in the economy.”

Title icon

Know More

Based on early results, the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, which provides projections to state broadcaster SABC, said the ANC is set to have roughly 42% of the vote when the count has been completed.

South Africa’s new parliament must, under the constitution, convene within 14 days of final results being declared. And parliament’s first act must be to elect the country’s president.

AD

It means the country’s political leaders will face up to two weeks of negotiations to form a government if, as seems likely the ANC has failed to secure a parliamentary majority.


Title icon

Sam’s view

Jacob Zuma is like the biblical Samson who brought down the pillars and made the temple collapse. He has a score to settle with various leaders in the ANC. He is wounded and has nothing to lose. His credibility is in tatters from the multiple controversies during his tumultuous nine-year presidency.

The ANC dropping below 50% can be attributed largely to Zuma’s uMkhonto weSizwe party. Zuma will savor every vote and every opportunity to rub it in the faces of ANC’s leadership. The 82-year-old’s phoenix-like rise coincides with a plummeting trust in South Africa’s public institutions and a global trend towards populist leaders.

Sam Mkokeli (L) with Dudu Zuma (R); Alexis Akwagyiram/Semafor

Barely six months old, the MK Party is yet to have a clear leadership lineage that could sustain it beyond Zuma. Questions about its longevity will be at the back of many minds. But what will count is how it officially implements its anti-establishment mandate once it takes up seats in South Africa’s parliament.

It will likely be the most significant political party in KwaZulu Natal, South Africa’s second most populous province. This will hurt the ANC quite a bit, as it also looks likely to lose its majority in Gauteng province, the economic epicenter where Johannesburg is located.

Title icon

The View From the ANC

The ANC will respect “the will of the voters” in any coalition decisions, the ruling party’s deputy secretary-general, Nomvula Mokonyane told journalists. Mokonyane said the ANC’s leadership was due to hold a meeting “today” (Friday) and officials would “reflect on what is good for the country.”

Asked about the performance of Zuma’s MK party, she said it was “unfortunate” that the former president had become an opponent. Referring to MK’s strong showing in the key province of KwaZulu-Natal, she said: “Of course, it has actually surprised the ANC. It is beyond what we expected.”


Semafor Logo
AD