NGU: ANC & DA policy implications

WITH the coalition of the African National Congress (ANC)and Democratic Alliance (DA) Government of National Unity in action, both parties have opposed ideological differences - raising concerns about how both parties will work. File Picture: Independent Media.

WITH the coalition of the African National Congress (ANC)and Democratic Alliance (DA) Government of National Unity in action, both parties have opposed ideological differences - raising concerns about how both parties will work. File Picture: Independent Media.

Published Jun 23, 2024


There is concern about how the ideological differences between the two biggest parties in South Africa’s government of national unity (GNU), the ANC and DA, will impact on the success of South Africa 7th administration.

Following this year’s general elections, the ANC, the former liberation party, garnered the worst results since the fall of apartheid with just 40% of the vote, and lost its absolute majority in Parliament.

President Cyril Ramaphosa struck a coalition deal with among others the country’s second-largest party, the DA, a party accused of trying to protect the economic privileges the country's white minority built up during the racist system of apartheid - a charge the latter denies.

The deal referred to as a GNU includes the IFP which draws its support mainly from ethnic Zulus in the province of KwaZulu-Natal, and the right-wing Patriotic Alliance (PA).

Last week, the GOOD party led by Tourism Minister Patricia de Lille, was announced as the fifth unity member. Together, the group holds 273 out of 400 seats in the National Assembly.

Some analysts have called the GNU alliance a “coalition” rather than a government of “unity” since the third and fourth-largest parties - the uMkhonto weSizwe party (MK) and Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), are not part of it.

Former Independent Media Editor-in-Chief Aziz Hartley criticised the GNU alliance, saying it was a victory for the Oppenheimer family which had funded the majority of parties in the GNU.

“This particular GNU is a spit in the face of South Africa's poor and marginalised. It also ties into Ramaphosa's reward for the favours white capital granted him during his campaign for the ANC presidency.

“Payback is due. It is no coincidence that the parties in this GNU are all beneficiaries of funding by the Oppenheimer family among others. They will remain beholden to these paymasters and this doesn't bode well for neither democracy, nor for the gains the democratic movement had achieved since 1994.

Hartley predicted that the ideological differences between the ANC and the DA would be mitigated by their common approach to the country's economy, “Capitalism”.

ANC vs DA fiscal policy implications

A research study published in April by Fitch Solutions, titled “South Africa Election Contrarian View: Implications of an ANC coalition with EFF or DA”, stated that throughout 2024 and 2025, an ANC-EFF coalition would likely result in a wider fiscal deficit, slower real GDP growth, a weaker rand, and closer ties to Russia and Mainland China.

“By contrast, an ANC-DA coalition would likely see a more pronounced reduction of the fiscal deficit than we currently forecast, which could help the government to achieve the Finance Minister’s stated goal of greater fiscal consolidation in the February 2025 budget,” the study said.

“The DA would increase pressure on the ANC to cut down the number of ministers and streamline grants (particularly disability grants and the social relief of distress grant, according to the DA's manifesto), also likely slowing the adoption of a basic income grant. However, the DA's commitment to avoiding new taxes and adjusting tax brackets for inflation are contrary to the ANC’s efforts to bolster revenues,” wrote Fitch Solutions.

Foreign policy implications

According to the Fitch solutions report, an ANC-EFF government would likely align South Africa more closely with left-leaning factions within the ANC, fostering greater cooperation with Russia and Mainland China, as suggested by the EFF's manifesto endorsing Russian and Chinese investment in South Africa's nuclear and coal power sectors. This shift could exert further strain on relations with the US.

ANC-DA: The DA's foreign policy approach was less explicit in its manifesto. However, over the past year, it has criticised the ANC’s decision to sever ties with Israel and was critical of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which contrasted with the ANC’s stated neutrality on the conflict.“

“The DA is more ideologically aligned with the US and the EU, with an ANC-DA coalition therefore likely to result in less foreign policy discord between South Africa and the US. The DA has also been highly critical of the deployment of the South African National Defence Force troops to conflicts in Southern and Central Africa.

Fitch stated that although South Africa’s membership of the African Union will continue to compel some support for the wider region, the company projected that South Africa may reduce its troop contributions under pressure from the DA as a coalition partner.

How the ANC, MK party & EFF coalition would have looked like

Alternatively, the ANC could have chosen to work with two radical parties that broke away from it - former President Jacob Zuma's MK party or Julius Malema's EFF.

These three parties share the same constituency, the black majority, and their combined vote comes to 65%.

After accepting the election results, Malema warned the ANC against forming a coalition that would "reinforce white supremacy" and be a "puppet of a white imperialist agenda".

This was a clear reference to a coalition with the DA, which had vowed to prevent an ANC and EFF coalition.

The EFF had expressed its willingness to work with the ANC in a coalition government. However, the party's demand for land expropriation was a "cardinal principle", and said it would not join the government if the ANC rejected it.

The ANC and EFF together have198 seats - just short of the 201 seats needed for a parliamentary majority, so a smaller party would have been brought into a coalition had the two parties joined forces.