ANC, DA butt heads over GNU

PRESIDENT Cyril Ramaphosa and DA Leader John Steenhuisen. Graphic/IOL

PRESIDENT Cyril Ramaphosa and DA Leader John Steenhuisen. Graphic/IOL

Published Jun 28, 2024


Anxiety is mounting in the country ahead of President Cyril Ramaphosa’s Cabinet announcement because of a public spat between the Government of National Unity (GNU) parties that include its leader organisations the ANC and the DA.

Letters widely circulated on Thursday confirm that a great deal of jostling for Cabinet posts among the two parties has kept the party on autopilot without a government while it remains to be seen if Ramaphosa will give in to the DA’s demands.

However, the latest letter from Ramaphosa states that the ANC was prepared to walk away if the DA did refuse what’s on table, saying he had a week to finalise his decisions.

In a letter addressed to Ramaphosa, DA leader John Steenhuisen confirmed that the president offered the party the six departments including Home Affairs, Basic Education, Trade, Industry and Competition, Public Works and Infrastructure, Communications and Digital Technologies and Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment and Finance, Energy and Electricity and Small Business Development deputy ministry positions.

Steenhuisen wrote in the letter that he had taken the offer back to his party for deliberation and discussion and the party decided they were not happy with the six positions and would like to occupy more.

The party expressed further concerns that they were sacrificing more from proportional representation than the ANC was.

“In terms of the quantum of portfolios, there remains concern within our structures that the DA is sacrificing from our proportional allocation more than the ANC … On a pure proportional basis, out of a Cabinet of 30, the DA’s share of support within the GNU translates to nine positions rather than the six that are currently on the table.

“Similarly, we cannot see the rationale for reducing the number of DA Deputy Ministries to only four. Logic would dictate that this quantum would be the same, or close to, the number of Cabinet portfolios.

“Overall, it is difficult to see how reducing our quantum in this way gives expression to clause 16 of the Statement of Intent, as it is neither reflective of the electoral outcomes nor the national interest. It is going to be extremely difficult for me to get my party to accept a third of the ANC’s allocation when we won more than half the number of votes of the ANC,” the letter read.

Steenhuisen further demanded Ramaphosa that, in addition to the six existing Cabinet portfolios which the party accepted, two more be allocated to the party.

He gave Ramaphosa the option of allocating the DA with the departments of Sports, Arts and Culture, Agriculture, Rural Development and Land Reform or Public Service and Administration.

“I am proposing these three options as alternatives to a Minister in the Presidency, Transport and International Relations, as I accept your rationale for assigning these to the ANC. Assigning two of these portfolios to the DA would take our quantum in Cabinet from six to eight, which would satisfy clause 16 by better reflecting the will of the people as expressed in the electoral outcome, while also taking into account the national interest,” read the letter.

However, Ramaphosa responding to Steenhuisen’s letter expressed unease with his counterpart that he was not happy that the negotiations were communicated through correspondence.

In the letter, Ramaphosa revealed that the ANC rejected the DA demands, further indicating that the ANC was in negotiations with other parties.

“I informed you (Steenhuisen) that the habit of negotiating through correspondence, as adopted by the DA, can be problematic. It can make, for example, parties play to the gallery of public opinion through the media leakages resulting in the loss of focus on the real substance of the negotiations,” Ramaphosa’s letter read.

Ramaphosa further expressed disappointment at the DA’s federal chairperson Helen Zille who also recently wrote a scathing letter to the ANC with a list of demands.

“I also informed you that we found the letter from your federal chairperson (Zille) offensive, condescending and inconsistent with the Constitution.

“I believe the DA has jeopardised the foundation of setting up the GNU by moving the goal posts in your letter. I’m really taken aback as to how you would want two more portfolios to bring the DA’s portfolios to eight.”

Ramaphosa told the DA that the ANC had other options.

Political analyst Andre Duvenhage speaking on national television said it was not going to be easy to start up the GNU.

He said that from here on there were four scenarios that would play out in the next day or two.

“The ANC could continue with the minority government. They could try to make the GNU work led by the ANC, DA and the IFP. The ANC could also turn to the left and start negotiations with the EFF or the fourth scenario would be potential instability in the country and move for elections,” he said.

The Star