South Africa’s ANC says it won’t ditch Ramaphosa to form coalition

JOHANNESBURG: South Africa‘s once dominant African National Congress acknowledged on Sunday that it was humbled by an that ended its 30-year majority but vowed not to replace President Cyril Ramaphosa as a condition to forming a governing coalition.
Official results from Wednesday’s vote confirmed the end of the ANC‘s unchallenged grip on political power and started the clock on a race to strike a deal with one or more opposition parties.
Political parties now have two weeks to work out a deal before a new parliament sits to choose a president, who would likely still emerge from the ANC as the biggest party.
Voters, angry at joblessness, inequality and rolling blackouts, slashed support for the legacy party of Nelson Mandela to 40%, down from 57.5% in the 2019 parliamentary vote.
Official results released on Sunday evening showed the ANC winning 159 seats in the 400-seat parliament, down from 230 in the previous assembly.
“Did we commit mistakes? Yes, we did. In governance and everywhere else,” Fikile Mbalula, the party’s secretary general, said on Sunday during the first press briefing the ANC has held since the polls, adding the party had “nothing to celebrate.”
The result means that the ANC must now share power, likely with a major political rival, in order to keep it – an unprecedented prospect since the democratic end of white minority rule in 1994.
“The ANC is committed to the formation of a government that reflects the will of the people, that is stable and that is able to govern effectively,” Mbalula said.
He said the ANC would have discussions internally and with other parties to create national and provisional governments “that reflect the will of the people and that are able to take the country forward.”
The party’s poor showing has fuelled speculation that Ramaphosa’s days might be numbered, either due to the demands of a prospective coalition partner or as a result of an internal leadership challenge.
Mbalula said the ANC would not bend to pressure from other parties that Ramaphosa, once Mandela’s lead negotiator to end white minority rule, must step down.
“That is a no-go area,” he said.
COSATU – South Africa’s largest trade union group and a major ANC ally – also rallied behind Ramaphosa.
“What’s key is that a coalition be led by the ANC and President Ramaphosa,” COSATU spokesman Matthew Parks said.
‘Doomsday coalition’
Before Wednesday, the ANC had won every national election by a landslide since 1994, but over the last decade its support has waned.
The main opposition party, the white-led, pro-business Democratic Alliance (DA), received 21.8% of votes.
Mkhonto we Sizwe (MK) – “spear of the nation” in the Zulu language – a new party led by former President Jacob Zuma and named after the ANC’s former armed wing, managed to take 14.6%, doing most of the damage to the ANC.
Despite doing better than expected, MK said it was considering challenging the results in court.
The far-left Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), led by former ANC youth leader Julius Malema, got 9.5%.
The prospect of an ANC tie-up with either the EFF or MK has rattled South Africa’s business community and international investors, who would prefer a coalition that brings in the DA.
DA leader John Steenhuisen said in an address broadcast on the party’s YouTube channel that it had named a team to begin talks with other parties with the aim of preventing such an alliance, which he called a “doomsday coalition”.
“For the Democratic Alliance, burying our heads in the sand while South Africa faces its greatest threat since the dawn of democracy is not an option,” he said.
The small Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP), a conservative Zulu party with a power base in KwaZulu-Natal province that won nearly 4 per cent of the vote, was to meet separately on Sunday to discuss its next steps.
Local media reported that the DA could be open to entering a cooperation pact with the ANC, supporting it in key decisions in exchange for top jobs in parliament. The IFP could also be part of such a deal.
“I would almost certainly think (the ANC) wouldn’t just go with the DA. They would most probably go with somebody like the IFP as well just because of the perception that the DA is a very white party,” said Melanie Verwoerd, a political analyst.
Mbalula said the ANC’s leadership would meet on Tuesday for discussions on the way forward.


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