South Africa’s Coalition Negotiations Begin as ANC Loses Majority

South Africa's former President Jacob Zuma arrives with his daughter and member of uMkhonto weSizwe (MK) Duduzile Zuma 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 1, 2024. REUTERS/Alet Pretorius

Official results from South Africa’s recent election are anticipated to confirm on Sunday the end of the African National Congress’s (ANC) 30-year majority rule, initiating a race to form a new ruling coalition.

Voters, frustrated by joblessness, inequality, and power shortages, significantly reduced their support for the ANC, the former liberation movement led by the late Nelson Mandela, bringing its share down to 40% in Wednesday’s election. This is a steep decline from the 57.5% it garnered in the 2019 parliamentary vote.

As a result, the ANC will now have to share power, likely with a major political rival, to retain control—an unprecedented situation since the end of apartheid in 1994.

Following the official announcement of the results expected on Sunday evening, political parties will have two weeks to negotiate a coalition deal before the new parliament convenes to elect a president, who would likely still be from the ANC as it remains the largest party.

“The ANC is committed to forming a government that reflects the will of the people, ensuring stability and effective governance,” stated Fikile Mbalula, the party’s secretary general, during a press briefing on Sunday.

Mbalula mentioned that the ANC would be engaging in discussions both internally and with other parties to establish national and provincial governments that accurately represent the electorate’s wishes and are capable of advancing the country.

However, he firmly asserted that the ANC would not succumb to pressure from other parties demanding that President Cyril Ramaphosa step down as a precondition for coalition formation. “That is a no-go area,” he emphasized.

The ANC’s poor performance in the election has sparked speculation about Ramaphosa’s future, either due to potential demands from a coalition partner or an internal leadership challenge.

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