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“A GNU will have common goals and it focuses on unifying themes”

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By Kouthar Sambo

The formation of the Government of National Unity (GNU) between the Democratic Alliance (DA) and the African National Congress (ANC) raised eyebrows. This comes after the ANC’s national vote fell below 50% following the general elections on 29 May (2024).

The political dynamic

However, the DA’s Hellen Zille recently called out the ANC’s Secretary-General Fikile Mbalula, stating the ANC must first discuss with them which parties should join the GNU.

According to Zille, Clause 24 of the signed agreement does not allow the ANC to add parties to the GNU without collective consultation. This has raised the question of whether or not the DA is acting as a gatekeeper of the ANC when it comes to decisions.

A GNU defined

Speaking on VOC’s PM Drive on Thursday, Associate Professor and independent political analyst, Everist Benyera, said a spade should be called a spade.

“This is a grand coalition by the textbook definition and this situation is nowhere close to a GNU. A membership of GNU is open to all, especially those you are most opposed to,” explained Benyera.

“If this was a GNU, it must include the uMkhonto weSizwe (MK party), the ANC, and the DA. What the public is seeing is two parties that are too opposed to try and run a country together,” added Benyera.

He further highlighted some of the common traits that exist within a GNU, which seems to be non-existent, given the current political dynamic between the ANC and DA.

“A GNU will have common goals and it focuses on unifying themes. For instance, a GNU focuses on pre-agreed crisis themes such as economic recovery and post-conflict reconstruction and development – not to revert to their pre-election political agenda in the manifestos.”

According to Benyera, a GNU also constitutes a “terminal arrangement” that has a fixed timeline, allowing for the parties to work towards renewing and fixing the country within a stipulated time.

“There should be an agreed structure for power sharing, especially among the main political parties. It will also consist of a pre-arranged consensus-based decision-making and dispute-resolution mechanism,” stressed Benyera.

“This is a coalition of various formations, not a GNU, more so because there is no internal framework that enables this so-called GNU,” clarified Benyera.

A power shift

In any marriage, explained Benyera, the first few weeks and even years are challenging because the two parties are testing each other’s resolve within the new arrangement.

“Did the ANC not read Claue 24? The DA is right to pose this stance by referring to the Clause and the ANC can do the same. However, in the absence of a pre-agreed arrangement on who gets to admit new members and how power is relocated, this marriage is doomed to fail very soon,” reiterated Benyera.

Meanwhile, the founder of the humanitarian organisation Gift of the Givers’ Dr. Imtiaz Sooliman, told VOC News that a GNU cannot exist without those “who fought in the trenches together.”

“The smaller parties fought the liberation together and they suffered together. They should not allow disagreement to divide them as this is common in politics. While they will never have a total agreement, the ANC should include smaller parties and find an agreement on most issues,” added Sooliman.

*This is still a developing story

Photo: @ParliamentofRSA/X

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