Tony Leon on GNU: Things are delicate at this stage, but some matters are ironed out in final hours

Former leader of the Democratic Alliance, Tony Leon. File Picture

Former leader of the Democratic Alliance, Tony Leon. File Picture

Published Jun 13, 2024


Former leader of the Democratic Alliance, Tony Leon, who is among the party’s top brass leading the inter-party negotiations to form the government of national unity says the talks have been rigorous but not centred around personalities and positions.

IOL reported earlier this month that Leon and Helen Zille are part of the “talented and experienced” team that is leading the talks on behalf of the DA, in a bid bring about a new coalition government in South Africa.

DA leader John Steenhuisen announced at the time that Zille and Leon will facilitate the engagement with other political parties.

In an interview with broadcaster Newzroom Afrika on Thursday, Leon said ideally the negotiations should have taken longer.

“Where you do have complex coalition talks, and they are always complex in other countries like in Europe, there is months before the coalition agreement is concluded. We have had two weeks and we haven’t yet concluded it, so let’s see, but you have got to work with the situation you are in and you can’t complain,” he said.

Leon said similar to the Codesa talks in 1993, some salient matters will linger up until the very last minute of the complex negotiations. Parliament is set to convene on Friday for the swearing-in of new parliamentarians, election of key functionaries including the speaker and president.

Former DA leader Tony Leon. File Picture: Angus Scholtz

Leon said unlike the 1993 talks, the ongoing negotiations which will lead to the election of the president of the seventh administration of South Africa, are buttressed by a strong Constitution which almost all parties ascribe to.

“South Africa today – whatever happens in the next 24 hours has got a fully fledged constitutional democratic system. So, a lot of the issues that were relevant then (in the Codesa negotiations) like how much powers does the courts have, who appoints judges - which were very controversial issues, have all been settled and accepted,” said Leon.

“As far as I know, there is no party in prospect of coming into power, whatever arrangements are finalised in the next 24 hours, that wants to junk the entire Constitution. I think there is one party, the MK party, but they do not seem to be in the mix as far as I understand it with this government of national unity. So what we are dealing with is what are going to be the terms of engagement if we are going to have a government of national unity.”

Regarding the composition of the government of national unity, and the extent of the involvement of the DA, Leon said issues are very delicate at this stage.

“I think things are rather delicate in a diplomatic state, so I am not going to speculate. I really do not have an idea who might or might not come into this. The DA has been constructive in this process. We have been very engaged in our discussions with the ANC and with the IFP,” said Leon.

“There are going to be further consultations today and hopefully we come to a conclusion before 10am tomorrow morning. That is what I can say. Often, when you get to the final hours, that is where the most difficult matters get to be resolved and we are getting to the final hours and hopefully we will reach a resolution.”

On Thursday, IOL reported that the Constitutional Court has dealt former president Jacob Zuma’s MK Party a blow after dismissing its urgent application to interdict Friday’s sitting of the National Assembly to elect a new president.

MK party supporters converging in Joburg. File Picture: Timothy Bernard / Independent Newspapers

In a judgment delivered late on Wednesday night, South Africa’s apex court ruled that it was neither within its jurisdiction to hear the case nor in the interest of justice to grant direct access to MK Party.