Tension and Standoffs as South Africa Struggles to Launch Coalition Government


An ANC-DA deadlock over cabinet positions has prompted fears that the government of national unity may have ended before it begins.

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Nearly a month after landmark national elections saw the African National Congress (ANC) lose its majority for the first time, the formation of a coalition government in South Africa is threatened by a deadlock over cabinet positions. Tense negotiations between the ANC and the Democratic Alliance (DA), the two largest parties in the coalition, delayed President Cyril Ramaphosa’s announcement of his cabinet in the Government of National Unity (GNU) this week.

Fears were heightened when DA leader John Steenhuisen threatened to withdraw from the coalition amid leaked letters showing tensions between party leaders. However, by Friday, signs of an imminent agreement emerged as Ramaphosa was set to meet Steenhuisen.

The rand, which fell amid news of the discord, strengthened following indications of a pending cabinet announcement that would include the market-friendly, right-leaning DA. Political analyst Khaya Sithole noted that markets favor the DA’s inclusion in the GNU, as it suggests continuity in economic policy.

“The DA’s participation in the GNU gives the perception that economic policies will remain stable,” Sithole told Al Jazeera. He emphasized that the DA, holding 87 parliamentary seats compared to the ANC’s 159, would not demand radical policy changes.

Leaked letters revealed the negotiations were marked by intense meetings and correspondence. During talks, the DA demanded specific powerful ministerial positions, prompting a stern warning from Ramaphosa about jeopardizing the foundation of the GNU. Initially, the DA’s demands included 11 cabinet posts, a dozen deputy minister positions, and governance changes.

The ANC labeled these demands as “outrageous” and began negotiating with other parties as a backup. Despite settling on six cabinet positions, the DA dug in, with Steenhuisen threatening to withdraw unless awarded eight ministerial positions. Ramaphosa responded firmly, refusing to increase the number of positions and exploring other party negotiations.

The GNU now comprises 10 parties, including the nationalist Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP), right-wing populist Patriotic Alliance (PA), and the Pan Africanist Congress (PAC), among others. Political analyst Lukhona Mnguni commented that the DA’s demands reflect their desire to assert themselves and avoid being overshadowed by the ANC.

“The DA’s participation in the GNU is a gamble, as they want enough insulation and isolation from the ANC,” Mnguni said. He noted the fight over cabinet positions affects the parties’ standing in future elections.

On Friday, media reports indicated that the DA remains committed to working out a deal with Ramaphosa. ANC Secretary-General Fikile Mbalula posted on X that GNU discussions were “almost done.” Ramaphosa announced that the new parliament would open on July 18, as the ANC navigates unprecedented political challenges following their loss of majority support in the May elections.

The ongoing negotiations underscore the complexities of forming a coalition government, with both the ANC and DA navigating their political interests and the broader implications for South Africa’s governance and economic policies.

By Naija247news
By Naija247newshttps://www.naija247news.com/
Naija247news is an investigative news platform that tracks news on Nigerian Economy, Business, Politics, Financial and Africa and Global Economy.

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