“Julius Can Go And Jump Off The Nearest Cliff”: South Africa Forms a Government

Bianca Bridger
Bianca Bridger
Bianca holds a degree in Political Science from the University of Otago, New Zealand. As the Africa Desk Chief for Atlas, her expertise spans conflict, politics, and history. She is also the Editor for The ModernInsurgent and has interests in yoga and meditation.

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Cyril Ramaphosa has been re-elected as the President of South Africa, and a statement of intent regarding a Government of National Unity has been signed between the African National Congress (ANC) and the Democratic Alliance (DA) as a result of the first sitting of the National Assembly of South Africa’s 7th administration on June 14th.

In “hung provinces” such as KwaZulu-Natal, Gauteng, and the Northern Cape, the ANC, DA, and its coalition partners—the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP), National Freedom Party (NFP), Patriotic Alliance (PA), and Freedom Front Plus (FF+)—have joined forces to oust Julius Malema’s Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) and Jacob Zuma’s uMkhonto weSizwe (MK).

What You Need to Know

The inauguration of the country’s second Government of National Unity (GNU) has not quelled discontent among the parties that were not included. Jacob Zuma’s MK is threatening legal action against state broadcaster SABC News for referring to the new government as a GNU instead of a “white-led unholy alliance.”

Likewise, the parties left out of the unity government—namely, the EFF, MK, United Democratic Movement, Al Jama-Ah, United African Transformation Movement, and Pan African Congress—have formed the “Progressive Caucus” opposition alliance.

In recent days, sharp words have flown between parties. IFP spokesperson Mkhuleko Hlengwa stated on the sidelines of the National Assembly, “Julius [Malema] can go jump off the nearest cliff, actually. He is a danger to society, a danger to our democracy, a risk to the peace and stability we are trying to build. He thrives on stoking violence and does not have the collective interest of this country at heart.”

These comments came after Malema referred to the IFP as an “Oppenheimer party” due to the IFP’s substantial funding from the South African Oppenheimer family.

In addition to the EFF’s dispute with the IFP, EFF’s Floyd Shivambu used the National Assembly’s first sitting to request the invoking of “section 89 subsection 1 of South Africa’s constitution to start the impeachment process related to Cyril Ramaphosa’s involvement in the Phala Phala case.”

The Phala Phala case, also known as the Phala Phala robbery, involved an estimated $580,000 stolen from President Ramaphosa’s private game reserve ‘Phala Phala’ in Limpopo in 2020. Ramaphosa was cleared of wrongdoing by the Public Protector’s office in late June 2023, but the case has become political ammunition in recent years.

Despite threats from Jacob Zuma’s MK party and the EFF’s attempts to impeach Ramaphosa, the ANC’s Secretary-General Fikile Mbalula and the DA’s Federal Council Chairperson, Helen Zille, signed a letter of intent on June 14th.

The letter outlines the GNU’s goals, focusing on rapid economic growth, poverty reduction, land reform, job creation, and food security, among other priorities. Furthermore, the GNU has opted to follow the dispute resolution principle of “sufficient consensus” in deadlock negotiations.

The Ousting of the EFF and MK

In the “hung provinces” of Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal, and the Northern Cape, the GNU’s parties have united to sideline both the MK party and the EFF.

In KwaZulu-Natal, the IFP’s Thami Ntuli has been appointed Premier, with the ANC’s Ntobeko Boyce as Speaker and the DA’s Mmabatho Tembe as deputy speaker.

In Gauteng, the ANC’s Panyaza Lesufi has been appointed Premier, while in the Northern Cape, the ANC’s Zamani Saul secured the Premier position through a cooperative agreement with the FF+.

The agreement specifies that the ANC will not undermine the self-determination of Orania, an Afrikaans-dominated enclave.

However, this loss of authority has not been well-received by the MK party.

A statement today by MK’s Spokesperson, Nhlamulo Ndhlela, on behalf of Zuma stated, “We need to educate our people that there is no GNU in South Africa. There is a white-led unholy alliance between the DA and the ANC of Ramaphosa. It is sponsored by big business. It benefits the markets, not the people.”

Ndhlela continued, “The newly formed Progressive Caucus of parties commands close to 30% of seats in the National Assembly. If it were not for electoral fraud, the number would be much higher.”

Additionally, Zuma today threatened legal action against the government after its refusal to agree to Zuma’s request for a re-election, stating, “The judges here make judgments based on what they’re thinking, not on facts. We are going to the international court so that this country does not have South African judges making such decisions.”

However, the likelihood of an international trial against the new South African government for electoral fraud, as alleged by Zuma, is extremely low.

Apart from the demands of the opposition, there are the demands of the GNU’s alliance partners, particularly those of Gayton McKenzie’s Patriotic Alliance.

The PA campaigned on a single ticket to rid South Africa of illegal foreigners and has consistently pushed for a position during negotiations where the PA can influence the country’s immigration policies.

On X, McKenzie stated, “I am in parliament with 8 other MPs. We will push for immigration reform. Laws are made in parliament, and we will apply maximum pressure to bring this issue to the forefront. Parliament shall hear ‘abahambe’ [let them go] until ‘bahambele’ [they go].”

McKenzie continued, “If I do not get a ministry, we will leave the GNU, because how can I justify supporting the GNU if I get nothing for my people?”

So, What Now?

While the country has made significant strides with the establishment of a GNU, the signing of a letter of intent, and the placement of candidates from various parties in provincial leadership positions, the new government must now formulate a strategy that satisfies all its alliance partners—a likely challenging task.

Nevertheless, the absence of large-scale political violence, as anticipated, is a remarkable achievement. The coming together of parties, which just months ago were at odds, signals growing maturity among the country’s political elite, despite the EFF and MK’s attempts to disrupt governmental proceedings.