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Updated Jun 7, 2024, 5:59am EDT
africa

ANC is mulling a unity coalition made up of multiple South African parties

Reuters/Siphiwe Sibeko
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The News

JOHANNESBURG – A coalition government that includes most of South Africa’s main parties has emerged as the most popular option for the African National Congress, according to President Cyril Ramaphosa.

The ANC’s most senior body, the National Executive Committee (NEC), met on Thursday to consider its options.

“This moment calls for multiparty unity, multi-stakeholder collaboration, if we are to overcome the severe challenges that our country faces,” said Ramaphosa, in a televised closing address at the meeting.

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“The purpose of the government of national unity must first and foremost tackle the pressing issues that South Africans want to be addressed. These issues include job creation, growth of the economy that will be inclusive, high cost of living, service delivery, crime and corruption,” he said.

The ANC will have 159 of parliament’s 400 seats following last week’s general election in which it won only 40% of the vote.

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Know More

Under the constitution, the country’s parliament must meet no later than June 17 to elect a president

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Options included forming a government with the main opposition Democratic Alliance, which is widely seen as market-friendly or, alternatively, working with populist political parties like the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) and former President Jacob Zuma’s uMkhonto weSizwe, both of which are ANC offshoots.

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Sam’s view

A coalition with a couple of partners helps the ANC neatly sidestep the public relations mayhem that comes with choosing one of the diametrically opposed options in a grand coalition.

One of those options is the Democratic Alliance, which would appease big business and the financial markets. Another is to work with the EFF and a few other smaller parties. The EFF option could roil financial markets while appeasing the ANC’s base on the left of the political spectrum. The DA espouses liberal policies and is trying to shake off a perception as a predominantly white party. Working with DA would raise the prospect of ANC — the party that fought for Black liberation under apartheid — having to defend itself against claims of selling out to a supposed ideological enemy.

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As a result, the ANC is torn down the middle on whether to choose the DA or the EFF as a coalition partner, with risks and opportunities whichever way it tries to move.

A unity government of multiple parties might be the solution to this challenge.

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Room for Disagreement

Former Human Settlements Minister Lindiwe Sisulu told the SABC, the national broadcaster, that the ANC should not choose a formulation with the Democratic Alliance.

“We are ideologically at variance with the DA. I cannot imagine having to drag people who do not have similar issues [and insights] into our problems and be able to take the country forward.

Her views contradict Cheryl Carolus, another ANC veteran who said the ANC should form a government with the DA.

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