Calls for end to Cabinet stalemate

President Cyril Ramaphosa and DA federal council chairperson Helen Zille. | Henk Kruger/ Independent Newspapers

President Cyril Ramaphosa and DA federal council chairperson Helen Zille. | Henk Kruger/ Independent Newspapers

Published Jun 30, 2024


Durban — The DA has been accused of hindering President Cyril Ramaphosa’s announcement of who will be included in South Africa’s Cabinet.

A month has passed since South Africans went to the polls and still there is no indication of which parties will take up key ministries in the Government of National Unity (GNU).

Speaking to the Sunday Tribune on condition of anonymity, an ANC national executive committee (NEC) member said no amount of pressure – even the leaking of sensitive discussion documents – would derail Ramaphosa and the ANC from making the correct choices for the country.

“This tactic of leaking the contents of the discussions to the media was uncalled for, and was clearly a strong arm tactic on their (the DA’s) part,” said the NEC member.

Ramaphosa was expected to unveil his Cabinet days ago, but the deadline has shifted several times as the ANC and DA continue their duel over who gets to take up key ministerial positions.

The stand-off between the two parties has become the talking point in many quarters, including political and business circles, with many calling for an end to the guesswork.

There has been speculation that ANC would hold its NEC meeting this weekend. However, the party’s secretary general, Fikile Mbalula, said no such meeting had been planned.

The ANC insider was optimistic about the discussions with the DA drawing to an end, saying the negotiating team had been mandated by the NEC and was making headway. He accused the DA of negotiating in bad faith.

He said that the DA’s leaking of information had backfired, and had demonstrated to the public that the party was simply interested in positions in the Cabinet as opposed to placing the interests of the country first.

According to the NEC member, the ANC was also not scared of the veiled threat that had been made in relation to governance in KwaZulu-Natal.

He was referring to DA federal council chairperson Helen Zille’s comment that they would possibly withdraw from the current government structure in KZN where the ANC, DA, IFP and National Freedom Party (NFP) formed a coalition government and managed to keep the Jacob Zuma-led uMkhonto weSizwe Party (MKP) from leading the province.

While the MKP had secured a majority in KZN by winning 45% of the votes, it was made to sit in the opposition benches with the EFF following the arrangement among the other four parties.

The ANC insider warned against the DA’s threat.

“The ANC can always abstain from voting in the KZN legislature and that would easily allow the MK Party to take over the governance of the province, so we should not be threatened about KZN,” he said.

He expressed confidence that the Cabinet members would be revealed soon.

On Friday, the IFP’s top brass joined the chorus of condemnation over the delay, and called for an end to the stalemate between the ANC and the DA on the allocation of portfolios in the GNU.

IFP president Velenkosini Hlabisa said there was already a level of anxiety in some quarters owing to the uncertainty that had been created by the impasse between the ANC and the DA, and called on the leaders of both parties to put the interests of the country first.

Hlabisa said that as GNU signatories they understood the difficulties for all parties, and wanted to give the participants space for negotiations without interrupting, as they realised that the country’s future was at stake.

He said that when news of the disagreements between the ANC and DA emerged, they regarded it as comments that lacked substance and were meant to create unnecessary alarm.

“There was, as far as we could see, no crisis. We understood that there will necessary be teething problems in the formation of a Government of National Unity. Now, however, like all South Africans, the IFP is growing concerned,” said Hlabisa.

The IFP president also downplayed the deadlock with the NFP, following its decision to replace Thulasizwe Buthelezi with fellow IFP member Michael Khumalo in the position of Zululand District mayor.

It had been expected that NFP leader Ivan Barnes would take over from Buthelezi as part of the working arrangement between the two parties.

Hlabisa said it was in the party’s nature to mediate where there were disagreements.

“We have noted issues of concern raised by the NFP, and we will engage the NFP’s leadership to find common ground,” said Hlabisa.

Observers have cautioned against elbowing the NFP out of the mayoral position, pointing to implications in governance in KZN.

NFP member in the provincial legislature Cynthia Shinga’s vote made the difference in ensuring that Thami Ntuli became KZN premier after fierce competition from the MKP.

DA spokesperson Solly Malatsi dismissed suggestions of the party applying strong arm tactics during the GNU negotiations.

“From the onset we have been committed to the negotiation process and have done so in good faith, part of which is not saying anything in public,” said Malatsi.

He said they would refrain from making any public statements until the process had been concluded.

Sunday Tribune