Home News South African president announces plan to form national unity government

South African president announces plan to form national unity government


Days after his African National Congress party suffered a historic electoral defeat, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Thursday he would seek to form a government with a diverse range of parties, some with diametrically opposed views.

South Africa has been led by the African National Congress (ANC) since the fall of apartheid, but has been in uncertainty since a watershed election on May 29, when voters punished the ruling party for failing to address soaring unemployment, frequent power outages and rising crime.

The party said the weakened ANC would hold talks with several opposition parties in the coming days to reach an agreement to avoid a hung parliament (where no party or coalition has a majority) and bring stability to South Africa’s government.

“We invite all political parties to form a government of national unity as the best option to move our country forward,” Ramaphosa said at a press conference late on Thursday night. “This is a time of great need for the broadest possible unity of the South African people.”

Although the ANC remains South Africa’s largest party, winning 40 percent of the vote in last week’s national election, it now holds just 159 seats in the 400-seat National Assembly, which elects the president, 42 short of a majority.

Many political parties are represented in the ANC’s proposal for a national unity government, with cabinet ministers to be drawn from a range of parties. Eighteen parties won at least one parliamentary seat in the election.

While such a government would likely allow Ramaphosa to retain the presidency, it would likely mean handing top posts such as deputy presidency to opposition MPs.

South Africa was once led by a Government of National Unity during Nelson Mandela’s first administration before a new constitution was drawn up to replace the apartheid-era constitution.

The model from three decades ago may be able to help South Africa through a potentially turbulent transition, but not everyone thinks it is a viable solution.

This type of government requires Political analyst Richard Callander believes that multi-party cooperation will be “completely unworkable” because many of the parties have very different policy goals. “It will make it impossible to develop an action plan.”

Some political parties themselves are deeply skeptical of cooperating with other parties.

The leader of the Democratic Alliance, South Africa’s largest opposition party with 21% of the vote, described the idea of ​​working with two other parties – Jacob Zuma’s People’s Spear and Julius Malema’s Economic Freedom Fighters – as a “doomsday alliance”. .

The two parties represent economic policies that are very different from the moderate and progressive economic policies of the ANC and the free-market policies of the DA. Both parties want to amend the South African constitution, albeit for different reasons.

The Economic Freedom Fighters want to change land redistribution laws and nationalise the central bank. MK wants to change South Africa’s legal system and pardon Mr Zuma so he can get a parliamentary seat.

Mr. ZumaMohammed bin Laden, who once led the African National Congress, was forced to resign as South Africa’s president six years ago. His government was tainted by corruption allegations.


Zuma’s new People’s Spear party said in a statement on Thursday that it had agreed to hold a meeting “to listen to everyone’s views with an open mind” after ignoring the ANC’s proposal, but on the condition that those views must give priority to “the majority of South Africans, especially black people.”

He and his new party have previously refused to work with his successor, current President Cyril Ramaphosa.

The ANC negotiating team is due to hold talks with the Democratic Alliance on Saturday. Tony Leon, a former opposition leader and now a member of the ANC negotiating team, said the talks so far had been “very cautious and exploratory”.

Leon added that the DA, a party built on sharp criticism of the ANC, would come to the table with an open mind.

“This is not the time for posturing and scoring points, but to steer the country onto the right path,” Leon said.

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