ANC faces uncertain coalition as talks begin: All eyes on South Africa’s political future


SOUTH Africa's African National Congress (ANC) faces an uncertain future as it begins coalition talks after losing its parliamentary majority for the first time in 30 years. The ANC, which led South Africa to self-rule from apartheid, secured 40.2% of the vote, a significant drop from the 57.5% it garnered five years ago. 

South Africa faces uncertain future as coalition talks start
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa speaks as people attend the announcement of the election results at the National Results Operation Centre of the IEC, which serves as an operational hub where results of the national election are displayed, in Midrand, South Africa June 2, 2024. REUTERS/Alet Pretoriu

The Democratic Alliance (DA) came second with 21.8% of the vote, followed by uMkhonto we Sizwe (MK) with 14.6%, the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) with 9.5%, and the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) with 3.9%. 

President Cyril Ramaphosa has called for "common ground" as the country prepares to form its first coalition government. 

In a weekly newsletter published Monday, Ramaphosa said this "moment in our country calls for responsible leadership and constructive engagement". 

Coalition talks begin amid uncertainty

The ANC's potential partners range from the free-market DA to MK and the EFF, parties that advocate nationalising mines and banks and redistributing land. 

"We would work with anyone who wants to work with us but not with a cap in the hand," ANC secretary-general Fikile Mbalula said late on Sunday.

A working committee of 27 ANC officials is scheduled to meet on Tuesday to prepare a presentation on the party's options. The DA and the IFP have both announced they had set up negotiating teams to engage with other parties. 

"The people of South Africa spoke loud and clear that political parties must find each other and constitute a government on their behalf as they did not give a full mandate to one political party," said IFP leader Velenkosini Hlabisa.

Market reactions and future implications

The investor community has voiced dissent with a coalition that includes black-led parties MK and EFF, fearing this could endanger their vested business interests. 

Analysts predict a coalition with the DA will be beneficial to the interests of white monopoly capital, a situation which will do little to alleviate the inequality that South Africa grapples with. 

Despite potential hurdles, some analysts believe a deal between the ANC and the DA is the likeliest outcome due to the DA's positive record in government at the provincial level. 

Financial markets, which favour the DA over either the EFF or MK due to its pro-business policy stance, appeared to be taking a similar view.

The road ahead

"It is going to be very difficult coalition negotiations, even more so for the ANC because of its internal contradictions," said Zwelinzima Ndevu, director of the School of Public Leadership at Stellenbosch University. 

A divisive figure who remains popular in his home province of KwaZulu-Natal, former president Jacob Zuma was forced to quit as president in 2018 after a string of corruption scandals during his term in office and has since become an implacable enemy of Ramaphosa. 

His new party, MK, is considering a court challenge to the election results despite its strong showing.

As South Africa navigates these uncharted waters, all eyes are on the ANC and the future direction of the country's young democracy—and what this portends for the African continent and the globe at large. 

(with additional reporting from Reuters)

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