Parties wrestle for top spot to lead SA for the next five years

Election posters on lampposts in the Cape Town CBD. Photographer: Armand Hough / Independent Newspapers

Election posters on lampposts in the Cape Town CBD. Photographer: Armand Hough / Independent Newspapers

Published Jun 9, 2024


The ANC is having sleepless nights over negotiations to form a Government of National Unity (GNU), a move that has seen mixed reactions from various political parties.

President Cyril Ramaphosa announced that political parties should work as a GNU when he addressed the nation on Thursday night.

Ramaphosa said after the ANC’s national executive committee (NEC) deliberations, they had agreed they would invite political parties to form a GNU as the best option to move the country forward.

“We have already held constructive discussions with a number of parties – the EFF, IFP, DA, National Freedom Party and Patriotic Alliance (PA),” said Ramaphosa.

ActionSA rejected the GNU, while the EFF said it would reject it if it involved the DA and Freedom Front Plus, after saying it refused to sit across from “land thieves“ and “apartheid system” beneficiaries to discuss the government.

A number of people are curious about the number of deputy presidents under the GNU.

Lawson Naidoo, of the Advancement of the South African Constitution, speaking in an interview with eNCA, said only 133 MPs were needed to form the Parliament.

“The Constitution is quite clear. It says the Cabinet consists of a deputy president and any number of ministers that are appointed by the president. There seems to be a restriction that there can only be one deputy president,” said Naidoo.

According to the Institute for Security Studies (ISS), Parliament must hold its first session within 14 days of the release of the results, likely on June 17. After MPs are sworn in, they elect a president from among their 400 members.

Elected parties are allocated seats proportional to votes received, using the candidate lists submitted before the polls. If there is more than one presidential candidate, voting takes place by secret ballot. If no one gets a majority, the candidates with the fewest votes are eliminated, and voting is repeated.

The ISS said in the unlikely scenario that a new president is not elected within 30 days because two candidates received an equal number of votes, Parliament is dissolved and a new election is called. During this period, President Cyril Ramaphosa and his current Cabinet remain in their positions in an acting capacity.

Various people are also curious as to whether or not the new government will be formed on time as there are clear time frames for the government to be formed before the deadline.

South Africa - Cape Town - 28 May 2024 - Vote2024 - DA and ANC election posters in the city. Photographer: Armand Hough / Independent Newspapers

Legal expert Kevin Smith, on eNCA, said the first meeting has to take place 14 days after the announcement of the election results.

“As far as the voting procedure goes, Section 3 of the Constitution sets that out and what basically happens is that a secret ballot happens. You nominate the speaker, deputy speaker, etc, and the person with the majority votes gets declared (in) that position.

“However, if there is no outright majority, then the person with the least amount of votes is eliminated and a re-vote happens. That happens until you have two candidates. If you have two candidates left and still can’t get an outright majority, then the presiding officer, being the Chief Justice, can call a further meeting seven days from that meeting.”

Smaller parties such as Mmusi Maimane’s Build One South Africa (Bosa), Bantu Holomisa’s UDM and others want Chief Justice Raymond Zondo to meet political parties to discuss the GNU.

Last week, Holomisa wrote to Justice Zondo, asking him to convene a meeting with all 18 political parties that are represented in Parliament.

Holomisa said based on the outcome of the election, the process of establishing a GNU could not be left to one party to lead and convene, adding that the matter needed a collection of many stakeholders in collaboration.

“We believe that your esteemed office, as the custodian of the Constitution and the guardian of our democracy, is best placed to oversee such a crucial gathering,” he said.

However, EFF deputy president Floyd Shivambu said yesterday that politicians could not be addressed by the outgoing chief justice.

“This one, General Holomisa, is a terrible idea and will never happen. We are not going to be presided over by Zondo. It’ll never happen.

“Also, there is no crisis in South African politics right now and there will not be. Leave Zondo to go home, he won’t preside over us. Never!” said Shivambu. | Additional reporting by Sipho Jack

The Star