Ramaphosa Seeks Government of National Unity as Political Fragmentation Continues

Following a meeting of the African National Congress’s (ANC) highest decision-making body, the National Executive Committee (NEC), South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has outlined his government’s proposal to create a Government of National Unity.

What You Need to Know:

In a video statement released on X, President Ramaphosa noted, “we have recognized that the people of South Africa have made their wishes known in free and fair elections. We accept the outcome of these elections as the will of the people of South Africa.”

Through the elections, held on May 29th, the ANC lost its long-held parliamentary majority, forcing it to begin coalition talks. However, each political party, most notably the Democratic Alliance (DA), Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP), Patriotic Alliance (PA), and uMkhonto weSizwe (MK), have markedly different views on South Africa’s path forward.

Jacob Zuma’s uMkhonto weSizwe party has continuously contested the election results, which have culminated in the Hola Bon Renaissance (HBR) Foundation filing papers at the Electoral Court (EC) against the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) for its ‘failure to discharge its statutory obligations.’

The claims come as the Commission received over 500 objections from 26 political organizations against the election results.

“The respondent (IEC) did not meaningfully decide the objection of the MK [party] or of the other political parties who laid objections. The respondent failed to provide reasons for its failure to meaningfully decide the objections of the MK [party] and other political parties and inform them of the same,” the HBR said.

In line with the MK party’s objections, that votes cast for the MK were ‘stolen’ and ‘given’ to the likes of the DA and the EFF, the HBR has contended that the IEC’s screen ‘did not correctly reflect the actual votes cast by the electorate.’

Receiving 579 objections to the results, the IEC ordered recounts in 24 instances.

Despite this, the ANC, DA, EFF, PA, and IFP have welcomed the election results and have announced their intent to engage in negotiations.

However, each party has outlined its own sets of non-negotiables, which puts them at loggerheads with other parties and further complicates the establishment of the Government of National Unity.

For the DA, the focus is on defending the constitution, which the MK party wants to abolish, as well as boosting economic growth. The EFF has outlined that its ‘non-negotiable cardinal pillars’ are the policies of land expropriation without compensation and the nationalization of strategic economic sectors, putting it at loggerheads with the DA.

At the same time, the EFF’s Floyd Shimbavu has confirmed that his party is opposed to the Government of National Unity because it “resembles what was concocted in 1994,” stating, “we do not want to form any part of a government with representatives of the white colonial and apartheid system, all these minority white parties represent that system.”

Further complicating matters is the MK’s formal demand issued today, to the Chief Justice and Secretary of Parliament to stop the sitting of the inaugural session of the National Assembly.

The MK’s statement said, “furthermore, and in defense of our people’s constitutional rights, the MK party will file papers with the constitutional court to interdict the swearing-in of party-nominated candidates as members of the National Assembly until our grievances, which are premised on allegations of election fraud and rigging, are thoroughly addressed by the courts. Legally, the absence of MK party members will prevent achieving the composition of the 350 members required to lawfully constitute the National Assembly, further invalidating the session which aims to appoint a President and therefore the government of the country.”

Behind the scenes, the ANC is also grappling with its own fragmentation, as reports have hit local media that traditional ANC elites have threatened to remove Ramaphosa from his leadership position if talks between pro-business ANC members and the DA continue.

Nonetheless, Ramaphosa has released the ANC’s conditions to parties seeking to join the Government of National Unity.

“Those interested in joining the Government of National Unity must commit to shared values, nation-building, and social cohesion.”

“The values are based on respect for the Constitution, social justice and equity, human dignity, the rule of law and non-sexism.”

“Though various political parties have ideological differences, that should not rule them out from working together.”

So, What Now?:

Grappling for the first time in 30 years of its loss of parliamentary majority, the ANC has understandably been shaken. For many observers, a Government of National Unity looks to be the safest option for the country, given that the MK party has taken on the role of ‘spoiler’ in the current negotiations. However, with the parties so divided on what the future of South Africa should look like, such a fragmented National Assembly will likely struggle to pass legislation in a timely manner. However, the South African political environment is likely to further fragment should the MK’s interdiction against the IEC make it through the Electoral Court.

Bianca Bridger
Bianca Bridger
Bianca Bridger is a Political Science Graduate from the University of Otago, New Zealand. Currently working as an Editor for The ModernInsurgent and writing for Atlas News, her interests include conflict politics, history, yoga and meditation.

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