The ANC-DA marriage will not crumble

The writer says if the ANC and DA don’t mend their differences, they both will be the biggest losers. Graphic: Sizwe Dlamini

The writer says if the ANC and DA don’t mend their differences, they both will be the biggest losers. Graphic: Sizwe Dlamini

Published Jul 7, 2024


UNTIL last week’s fallout between the DA and the ANC, the light at the end of the tunnel was beaming with brightness.

And now, suddenly, and menacingly, it looks like the light is that of an oncoming train.

Theirs was a tricky courtship. Their quick marriage – albeit based on convenience – was blissful. Indeed, the honeymoon was looming.

Now, the end is nigh.

The marriage officer, Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, must be wondering which part of the vows the newly-weds missed. He might never.

In South Africa, you marry in church but never divorce in the same place. Permanent separation is officiated by the Department of Home Affairs only.

How did the silver cup get broken so quickly?

Also, is the breakdown irreversible?

Remarks by the DA boss in Gauteng, Solly Msimanga, that their door is not closed and that the party is still open to persuasion offers hope of salvaging the union that the markets have anointed.

From Msimanga’s standpoint, it seems like the couple is still sharing the same house, only sleeping in different rooms.

At least no one has moved out - yet. But judging by Gauteng ANC boss Panyaza Lesufi’s body language, and nuanced utterances, the party is at the exit door.

As is the case with every storyline, there must be a context in this hurried implosion.

The DA argues that the “statement of intent” the parties signed right at the beginning was an equivalent of the vows.

Seemingly, the ink had hardly dried by the time everything went awry.

If they don’t mend their differences, I’m afraid both the DA and the ANC will be the biggest losers. And that’s where context is king.

In the lead-up to the May 29 elections, the DA undertook to do everything in its power to avert a marriage between the ANC, EFF and MK Party.

Granted, the first prize would have been the Moonshot Pact signatories winning an outright majority as a collective. They did not.

Hence, the DA resorted to Plan B, which was to jump into bed with the ANC. This explains the description “marriage of convenience”.

On the other hand, the ANC – having been humbled by the electorate, became wiser and smarter as it reeled from the fall from 57% in 2019 to 40% in 2024.

Instead of toying with the idea of a minority coalition, the ANC opted for a Government of National Unity (GNU) as the lesser evil.

The first tangible spin-off is the resounding endorsement of the “markets” for a DA-ANC cooperation.

That you have the IFP in addition plus nine other parties fall nicely into the ANC’s narrative of “putting the country first”.

As things stand, the ANC has already yielded its first prize at national (level), where the new cabinet has been appointed and it’s now all hands on deck.

The entire arrangement has driven me to argue that the ANC has pulled the rabbit out of the hat.

A party of 40% has repositioned itself as the protagonists of the new order, of the new dawn.

With President Cyril Ramaphosa firmly in control of the ANC’s NEC, the party sits comfortably in the pound seat of the 7th administration.

They need each other badly, the ANC and DA.

The next five years of the GNU provides the ANC with a new lease of life, a second chance to prove to the electorate that Mandela’s party has heard the cries of the voters, and “self-corrected”.

In the coming five years, the ANC will grab every glory of the GNU collective. After all, the GNU is the ANC’s creation. Everybody else has been invited to serve.

Ultimately, President Ramaphosa and his comrades will remind the country that when it mattered the most, they did their utmost best to put together a government of the people by the people for the people.

It will be difficult to argue against the ANC’s claim over the collective success of the GNU. This is the magic wand of the party.

By extension, the storyline is in sync with Ramaphosa’s desired legacy. He’d like history to remember him as the Chief negotiator of the ANC in the period leading to the first democratic elections of April 1994.

That’s really where it began for the former trade unionist that is Ramaphosa. The end is like the beginning. It bears all the hallmarks of the Alpha and the Omega.

In the end, history will remember Ramaphosa as the man who pulled together leaders from a diverse political background around the same cabinet to work together and deliver services for the people of SA.

It will be impossible to write the script of the successes of the GNU without mentioning the driver of the train. To this end, Ramaphosa will be talked about, written about, as some kind of a mini-Mandela who galvanized different political parties to cooperate in the interest of SA.

I want to argue, right here and now, that given the nature of Ramaphosa’s script as outlined above, it is difficult to see him stay for the entire five-year period of the GNU.

Methinks any time after the first twelve months, Ramaphosa will leave public office as he would have loved – as a nation-builder who saw no colour but only human beings in SA’s different racial groups.

If the wheels should come off the GNU after his departure, history will neither tarnish his name, nor image, by locating him to the crumbled house of cards that he left as a house standing firm on democracy pillars and Batho-Pele ethos of public service.

And then, as for the DA, the party is caught between a rock and a hard place. Whereas they never wanted the ANC to remain in power in the first place, the failure of the Moonshot Pact to win an outright majority has forced Hellen Zille and Co into bed with the ANC – sleeping with the enemy, so to speak.

It is in the utmost interest of the DA not to upset the ANC to the extent of forcing Ramaphosa and his party to take the ball and go home.

In other words, the very idea of an ANC in a coalition with the EFF and the MKP sends chill down the spine of the DA. Hence, the DA with the assistance of the “markets” will ensure that the DA-ANC pact at the core of the GNU remain the lifeblood of the new 7th administration.

The collapse of the GNU will be tantamount to the very failure of the DA’s political framework and futuristic plans for the country.

Thus failure is not an option. To ensure, as the DA leader John Steenhuisen so strenuously asserted countless times, his party will never allow for the “doomsday coalition” to take over our politics.

The ANC and the DA may therefore be motivated by different interests, but their similar end-game to stay in power and improve their stock before the electorate in the next five years is their point of convergence.

The differences between the two parties in Gauteng, therefore, are not irreversible.

The marriage will certainly be salvaged. The parties recognize that they need each other badly. That is why the DA, although symbolically withdrawing their deputy speaker occupant in Gauteng following the “temporary” fallout, have been quick to emphasize that the door is not ajar, but instead wide-open for further talks with the ANC.

Before the cock crows twice, the DA and the ANC would have kissed and made up. The deputy speaker position returned, and three seats initially rejected by the DA this time joyfully accepted.

The absence of the EFF and the MKP in the Gauteng legislature, as is the case in KwaZulu-Natal and the GNU, is music to the ears of the DA. And the ANC is playing the music, with Ramaphosa conducting the band.

*Abbey Makoe is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief: Global South Media Network.