South Africa’s ANC gathers to choose preferred coalition partners

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa (Reuters) – African National Congress leaders started talks on Thursday in order to find potential partners for a new government. The ANC had lost its parliamentary majority for the first time since the dawn of democracy.

Last week, the former liberation movements was punished by the election for its chequered history.

The ANC, while still the largest party in the country, can no longer rule alone. On Wednesday the ANC announced that it would form a coalition government with a variety of other parties.

The National Executive Committee of the ANC (NEC) met in a Johannesburg hotel to discuss their strategy. Fikile Mbalula, the ANC’s Secretary-General said: “This is a moment for sober thinking.”

“We don’t approach the discussion from a standpoint of locking ourselves in to one option. He told reporters that they were considering all options.

Mbalula stated that President Cyril Ramaphosa will reveal what the NEC has decided in his closing address.

South Africa is facing a number of challenges, including a slow economic growth, high unemployment and poverty, a persistent wealth gap between races, severe power shortages, and political corruption.

The ANC will hold 159 out of 400 seats in the National Assembly.

The Democratic Alliance (DA) of whites, led by the former president Jacob Zuma (MK), has 87 seats. Next in line are the populist uMkhonto we Sizwe, led by Zuma (MK), who holds 58 seats.

“We are in contact with even smaller parties.” Mbalula said, “We want everyone to be on board.”

On Wednesday, the DA signaled that it would not join a coalition government which included MK and EFF.

The answer to the question of how to build an ANC coalition is not easy.

Financial markets would welcome any deal with the DA, but many ANC supporters would not be happy with it. They see it as a champion for what some South Africans refer to as “white monopoly capitalism”.

A group of anti-DA demonstrators, who held placards that read “The DA is out to destroy the ANC”, and “Not in Our Names”, stood outside the hotel, where the NEC was meeting.

A deal with EFF or MK that advocates nationalising mines and grabbing land without compensation would be more popular among some in the ANC’s base, but could frighten investors.

The EFF and MK both have leaders who are former ANC members that broke away from the ANC and are in disagreement with the current leadership. Zuma is openly hostile to Ramaphosa and his party declared after the elections that it would never work with “the ANC under Ramaphosa”.

The ANC spokesperson stated on Wednesday that the party will not speak to counterparts who demand Ramaphosa’s resignation in order to join a governing coalition.

Mbalula said on Thursday: “It has been difficult to engage MK.” After this meeting, it depends if we still want to meet with MK.

Zuma was forced out of office as president after a string of scandals involving corruption. He was also jailed after refusing participation in an investigation into corruption.

In his populous home province of KwaZulu-Natal this week, extra police were deployed to maintain public safety. In 2021, the province was the site of deadly riots when Zuma’s sentence was handed down.

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