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Coalition Talks: ANC pursues Government of National Unity after election shortfall

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By Ragheema Mclean

After failing to secure a majority in the recent elections, the African National Congress (ANC) is initiating negotiations with other political parties to form a government of national unity (GNU).

ANC President Cyril Ramaphosa announced the party’s decision on Thursday (6 June), highlighting that a GNU is the most viable, effective, and powerful way to meet the expectations of all South Africans at this critical juncture.

The concept of a GNU is not new to South Africa. The first democratic-era government included a GNU, incorporating the National Party and Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP).

Ramaphosa’s current proposal aims to create a representative government with participation from major parties, including the Patriotic Alliance (PA), Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), Democratic Alliance (DA), and the IFP.

The uMkhonto Wesizwe (MK) party has also announced that a meeting with the ANC would take place soon.

Meanwhile, concerns are mounting about the impact of coalition talks on poorer, disadvantaged communities across the nation.

Speaking on VOC Breakfast on Friday, Stellenbosch University Professor Aslam Fataar noted that while coalitions are not the ideal way to govern, political leaders must navigate the electoral outcomes to benefit the people.

“Coalitions are with us; they are not the best way to govern a country, but our political leaders now need to figure out how to deal with the electoral cut of the voting outcomes in such a way that it benefits the people,” said Fataar.

He emphasized the need for a coalition to be pro-poor, though there will be debates on what that entails.

Fataar also highlighted the challenges of forming a coalition: “It is going to be a very difficult set of political circumstances in which they are going to govern the country.”

He stressed that the coalition must appear non-ideological to bring together disparate forces across the political spectrum and balance fiscal and economic growth issues within party political processes.

The coalition government will be negotiated by the elite of political parties, each protecting their interests while committing to the constitution.

Furthermore, South African Reserve Bank Governor Lesetja Kganyago warned that unstable coalition policies could deter investors.

Economist Dawie Roodt echoed this sentiment, stating, “The rand should be trading at a much better level than where it is trading at the moment, this is an indication that South Africa is paying a huge risk premium meaning the confidence in our country is at a record low.”

Roodt expressed concerns about the sustainability of a GNU, given the ideological differences among potential cabinet members.

“I personally don’t see how this is going to go on for a long time, having a cabinet filled with members that have such huge differences in ideological views – there is going to be much conflict,” he said.

“All this uncertainty is weighing on the markets.”

In the coming days, the Cape Town International Convention Centre (CTICC) will host the inaugural sittings of the National Assembly and the National Council of Provinces.

During these sessions, new members of Parliament will be formally welcomed, marking the beginning of their legislative duties.

VOC News

Photo: @MYANC/X 

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