Tensions intensify as pressure mounts for new government

President Cyril Ramaphosa gestures next to members of the National Executive Committee, Deputy President Paul Mashatile and Gwede Mantashe, as they meet to look at options to form a new South African government, according to Secretary-General Fikile Mbalula, in Boksburg, east of Johannesburg, South Africa, June 6, 2024. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko

President Cyril Ramaphosa gestures next to members of the National Executive Committee, Deputy President Paul Mashatile and Gwede Mantashe, as they meet to look at options to form a new South African government, according to Secretary-General Fikile Mbalula, in Boksburg, east of Johannesburg, South Africa, June 6, 2024. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko

Published Jun 8, 2024


As THE ANC seeks possible coalition partners to take on board a government of national unity (GNU), possible suitors are unwilling to be part of Cyril Ramaphosa’s bridal party if he takes one or the other to the GNU wedding, leaving the nation waiting at the proverbial alter.

After being locked in for hours late into Thursday night in an ANC National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting at the Birchwood Conference Centre in Ekurhuleni, Ramaphosa told the nation that his party has agreed to invite political parties to form a GNU as the best option to move the country forward.

The party revealed that they were in talks with the DA, EFF, PA and IFP, among others, to form a unified government. But yesterday, fissures in the prospect started to appear, with the EFF and MK Party digging in their heels, refusing to form part of any government with rival opposition party, the DA.

Adding fuel to the fire, MK Party threatened to boycott Parliament until all of its objections against the elections had been resolved by the Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC), even if it had to go to court.

The ANC will have 159 of the 400 seats in the new National Assembly. Its nearest rivals are the DA, with 87 seats; the MK Party led by former President Jacob Zuma, with 58; and the hard-left EFF with 39.

Within the ANC, cracks deepened, and analysts predicted that the government of national unity could pit party members in a bitter political battle.

Ramaphosa’s allies, Police Minister Bheki Cele, and Social Development Minister Lindiwe and Zizi Kodwa, were removed from the list, with the latter facing charges and forced to resign as minister of sports, arts and culture.

An Analyst has warned that tension between Deputy President Paul Mashatile and Ramaphosa could intensify as he might have to sacrifice his position.

Political analyst Sandile Swana said Mashatile and some of the other members might be left out in the cold to appease certain coalition party demands, if the GNU succeeds.

“Mashatile and his company will be left out (if) the deputy president position goes to the DA or some other entity.

“Ramaphosa is outsourcing to the DA because he has not been equal to the task of running the state of SA,” he said.

Swana said Ramaphosa could do as he pleases because SA billionaires and the DA were sponsoring him.

“That's where his power base is at. His power base is not in the ANC…He may be supported by those who feel economically comfortable,” Swana said.

“The proposed government of national unity and the sponsorship of the idea by big business is, in a nutshell, where the ANC of Ramaphosa will negotiate with the DA to the terms of surrender.

“This is the ANC openly admitting that it has failed to stage the national democratic revolution and has failed to run the state, and it needs to be rescued by the DA from the mess that it has created.

“To do that, a number of comrades in the ANC, Mashatile being one of them, will be sacrificed, and positions of critical importance will be handed over to the DA.

“So internally within the ANC, there will be many casualties,” he said.

He added that the DA would demand premium positions such as treasury, trade and industry, and maybe even defence.

Although the IFP and the DA have shown interest in the ANC’s GNU, the EFF has rejected the idea.

“The EFF has to take the principle stance … the constitutional court has already made it clear that they can pursue the Phala Phala case … there is a chance that they could have a respectable degree of success in pursuing the case and even vote Ramaphosa out of power.

“It's clear that the EFF and the MKP don't want Ramaphosa there and there are others who don't want him there for performance reasons,” Swana added.

ANC veteran Mathews Phosa said the defeat at the recent polls had created a perception that “ the ANC is being co-opted by money. We must always lean towards the poor masses. The perception that you can be bought is very troubling and dangerous,” he said.

Other parties such as the ACDP, ATM, BOSA, PAC, UAT and the UDMU have written a letter to Chief Justice Raymond Zondo for an urgent meeting to discuss the formation of its own GNU.

The ANC’s alliance partners that include the Cosatu, the SA Communist Party have rejected the idea of going to bed with the DA while Numsa is the latest to join in the chorus.

The DA said it was open to talks and was "committed to the process".

"But the broad invitation to all parties ... rather than limiting it to parties committed to our current constitutional dispensation, the rule of law and a social-market economy, has undoubtedly complicated matters," spokesperson Werner Horn said.

"Our negotiation team will ... have further meetings with other parties to listen to their views and reaction," Horn added.

Meanwhile, investors and the markets are waiting on tenterhooks to find out which way the country will be going and have already responded negatively.

Economist and political analyst Dawie Roodt said he doesn’t see the GNU working and that the markets are already responding negatively to this uncertainty.

“This is an attempt by Ramaphosa to save the ANC as it has gone weaker over the years, which the man doesn’t want to admit. It will be impossible to put all these parties in one room, let alone agree on anything. I think we will have to go back to the polls, as these things won’t even last a month,” said Roodt.

“The financial markets want a coalition that is more to the right; the DA is the obvious candidate for that. If the ANC goes into a coalition with the left, the EFF, or the MK Party, the rand will immediately take a further knock, and the capital markets will see foreigners fleeing. The equity market, already under pressure, will fall even further, and we could easily lose another 10%. Keep in mind that all these markets are already undervalued. In the real economy, investors will pull away. Investment and the economy will not see growth for a long time,” said Roodt.

The Black Business Council (BBC) said a coalition between the ANC, EFF, IFP and MK Party would be a great victory for progressive policies.

“This is a coalition of parties with many policies in common in key areas.

“This coalition also guarantees the two-thirds majority threshold which is important for constitutional amendments.”

The new parliament has to convene within two weeks of Sunday's results declaration and one of its first acts must be to elect the president.

The constitutional deadline, which will fall on or near June 16, is putting pressure on the ANC and others to reach an agreement quickly.

See page 4

Related Topics:

elections 2024