Home » Unity government is South Africa’s best option – Ramaphosa

Unity government is South Africa’s best option – Ramaphosa

by Michael Omoruyi, Ph.D.

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa met with senior officials of the African National Congress to decide how to go about forming a government after the party lost its 30-year grip on power and left a post-election deadlock. 

June 07, 2024

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa and other senior officials of the African National Congress party were in a critical meeting Thursday to decide if they should formally propose a “unity” government bringing in all major parties to solve a political deadlock in Africa’s most industrialized country before a June 16 deadline.

It comes after last week’s election in which the ANC lost its majority for the first time since the end of the racist system of apartheid 30 years ago.

Mr Ramaphosa called for a national dialogue to help rebuild social cohesion, after a “toxic and divisive” election campaign.

ANC had held a comfortable majority ever since the end of apartheid, but won just 40% of the vote in this election, although it remained the largest party.

“We want to bring everybody on board,” ANC Secretary-General Fikile Mbalula said of the unity government proposal. He said the ANC meeting, which would decide whether to back that idea over a narrower coalition with one or two parties, was likely to last all day.

The unity government now appeared a more likely scenario than a direct coalition between the ANC and the main opposition Democratic Alliance, or DA, party, which gained the second largest share of the vote with nearly 22%.

More than 50 parties contested the election with at least eight of them receiving significant shares of support. They range from the centrist DA, viewed as a business-friendly party, to the far-left Economic Freedom Fighters, or EFF, which wants to nationalize parts of the economy, including South Africa’s important gold and platinum mines and the central bank.

There is also the new MK party of former President Jacob Zuma, which has said it won’t negotiate while Ramaphosa is ANC leader, a position largely driven by Zuma’s animosity toward the man who replaced him as president.

Any unity government plan from ANC would still have to be taken to those other parties, some of whom are more opposed to each other than ANC. DA has pledged never to work with EFF or MK, for example, and there are clear divisions to overcome.

This is a developing story…

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