Ramaphosa under fire as ANC tanks

 ·2 Jun 2024

Discussions have arisen about Cyril Ramaphosa’s future as African National Congress (ANC) president after the party’s performance in the 2024 general elections, given that some potential coalition partners do not want to see him at the negotiating table.

With over 99% of voting districts having been counted, the ANC are sitting at just over 40% of the national vote.

This is the party’s worst electoral performance, and marks the first time that it has not achieved an outright majority in parliamentary elections.

Pundits initially thought that the ANC would receive just below the 50% mark, meaning that it would need to partner with smaller, ‘more obedient’ parties to form a government.

But, as votes have trickled in, this has proven to not be the case, with bigger opposition parties needed to get over the line.

The big challenge now for the ANC is choosing who to get into bed with, given that some of these opposition parties have called for Ramaphosa’s head.

What could the talks entail

Sources within the ANC revealed to the Sunday Times that the party plans to condition its partnership discussions on several key agreements: passing the budget, enhancing security, upholding the constitution, and safeguarding the judiciary’s independence.

This approach would also make it possible for leaders from the opposition to become the speaker of the National Assembly.

Moreover, it would enable President Ramaphosa (if he continues as President) to select a deputy president from outside the ANC leadership and appoint a finance minister from among esteemed financial institutions.

Possible government of national unity

The government of national unity option, a re-run of what was formed after the 1994 election, is perceived as a possible an attempt by the ANC to manage the process of forming a government and avoid the backlash that would come with choosing between the Democratic Alliance (DA) and the uMkhonto we Sizwe (MK) Party and Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF).

It is doubtful whether this option would materialise, however nothing is set in stone, particularly in South African politics.

DA and the multi-party charter option

The DA, which is sitting at over 21% of the national vote, has been keeping its cards very close to its chest.

However, it has hinted at the possibility of talks with the ANC.

Federal chairperson Helen Zille told Mandy Wiener yesterday (1 June) that leaders of the DA, Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) and Vryheidsfront Plus (VF Plus) were to have informal discussions about the possibility of going forward as a collective of their multi-party charter agreement for discussions with the ANC.

Zille said that “individuals are speaking to lots of other individuals from various parties.” But, nothing has been formalised or mandated.

IFP president Velenkosini Hlabisa has said that the party is “not desperate to go into a coalition,” but will rather see what is offered.

MK Party – open to talks, not with Ramaphosa

The leadership of the MK Party, which is set to emerge as the third biggest party with just over 14% of the vote, have said that it would consider forming a coalition with the ANC on condition that the governing party axes Ramaphosa.

The party, formed by former president Jacob Zuma, was born out of what it labeled as “saving the ANC” from the “ANC of Ramaphosa.”

Jacob Zuma’s daughter and high-ranking member of the party, Duduzile Zuma, has said the party would prefer to talk to “Black progressive parties” who were “like minded” and shared MK’s stance in calling for “land redistribution, free education, plus the nationalization of mines and the Reserve Bank.”

She has repeatedly said that negotiations with “the ANC of Ramaphosa,” is not on the table.

EFF changed its Ramaphosa tune

The EFF, which has been bounced from its third place position to fourth, has changed its stance on talks with Ramaphosa.

Previously saying that it would not enter any coalition deal with the ANC of Ramaphosa, leader Julius Malema has changed his tune in this regard saying that a “compromised ANC is not arrogant.”

Malema said the party would go into coalition negotiations with their lists of demands, including holding the National Assembly speaker position and have Floyd Shivumbu take up the position of minister of finance.

Malema also congratulated the MK Party, indicating hat he is happy to work with both the MK and ANC. “MK, we are relatives; we are together… we will work with the ANC; and we will work with them, EFF and MK, we are one thing,” Malema said.

Similarly to the MK Party, Malema said that the parties principles and demands include “the amendment of the Constitution to realise land expropriation without compensation, the creation of a state-owned bank in six months, nationalisation of the South African Reserve Bank,” were of top priotity in negotiation agreements.

EFF and IFP popular among ANC NEC

Insiders have reportedly told the Sunday Times that the coalition with EFF and IFP was most popular within the ANC NEC.

However, any inclusion of the EFF within government would rattle markets because of the party’s radical economic policies, and the IFP has indicated that this grouping is not their ideal intention, given their inclusion in the multi-party charter grouping.

Read: 2024 Election results: ANC left shell-shocked with 97% of votes counted

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