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


Jun 13, 2024, 12:33pm EDT
africa

South Africa’s parties are locked in last-ditch talks to form a government

Reuters/Siphiwe Sibeko
PostEmailWhatsapp
Title icon

The News

South Africa’s leading political parties are in last-minute bargaining talks to establish a coalition government with less than 24 hours left before parliament meets to select a president.

The ruling African National Congress (ANC) lost its 30-year parliamentary majority in the May 29 general election, claiming only a 40% share of the votes.

President Cyril Ramaphosa needs a simple majority of votes in parliament to secure another five-year term at the helm of Africa’s most industrialized economy.

AD

The ANC’s potential partners had agreed on two rounds of meetings over the last week. But sources told Semafor Africa the process of agreeing deals to form a “national unity government” spanning the political spectrum had been slow, with no agreement on how partners would share cabinet positions.

The ANC has been wooing the main opposition Democratic Alliance — which won 22% of the votes — and other smaller parties, with whom it would share power. The DA, opposed by some ANC members who say it serves the interests of a privileged white minority, was the first opposition party to announce an interest in exploring a coalition.

It has not officially confirmed that it has agreed to a partnership. DA lawmaker candidate Werner Horn told Semafor Africa that a “skeleton” of cooperation with the ANC had been agreed but the “flesh” was yet to be finalized.

AD
Title icon

Know More

The DA’s arch foes the Economic Freedom Fighters and uMkhonto weSizwe Party (MK Party), both populist parties that both broke away from the ANC, have been left out of the talks, according to two ANC sources and another from the EFF.

The conservative Inkatha Freedom Party, which has an ethnic Zulu base, on Wednesday said it was prepared to work with the ANC and DA in a coalition government. “We will participate in the government of national unity for the sake of our country and for the sake of our people who want life to continue with a stable government that will address their challenges,” IFP leader Velenkosini Hlabisa told journalists.

Title icon

Sam’s view

With a 40% share of the seats in the National Assembly, it would take a miracle, or bad tactics, for the ANC to fail to form a government. It can bank on goodwill from a partner like the DA, which is terrified of the prospect of anyone but Ramaphosa being president of South Africa. As a result, the ANC and the DA are likely to vote together, even if the finer details around the partnership have not been thrashed out.

AD

Despite looking on course to build a coalition, the ANC can’t afford to take things for granted because it has a sworn enemy in the MK party, led by former president Jacob Zuma. He is simply one of the most cunning politicians in the world. And his influence on South African politics is beyond doubt. Just look at the way in which his party won just under 15% of the vote having only been set up in December.

There’s no doubt in my mind that Zuma will try to divide the ANC from the outside. Senior political sources told me there’s a strong suspicion that some ANC legislators are secret Zuma sympathizers who could turn against Ramaphosa in a secret vote.

Semafor Logo
AD