Coalition talks update: Where things currently stand

 ·13 Jun 2024

South Africa is edging closer to a new era of collaborative governance, with an increasing number of political parties revealing their official stance on the African National Congress (ANC’s) proposal for a Government of National Unity (GNU) amid rigorous intra- and inter-party negotiations.

On Thursday, 13 June, the ANC is having its national executive committee reconvene to discuss the final leg of the process, which it said involves putting together a document or statement of intent for all GNU partners to adhere to.

The ANC received the largest share of seats in Parliament (159/400) in the national election, putting it in the driving seat of the GNU.

This comes 24 hours ahead of a crucial vote in Parliament on Friday when the president, speaker and deputy speaker of the National Assembly will be elected for the seventh administration.

However, the full and final makeup of the seventh democratic administration still remains unclear, with coalition talks between the main parties yet to be finalised, and some key players are still keeping their cards close to their chests.

What we know so far

As it currently stands:

  • Support GNU: ANC, DA, IFP, PA
  • Oppose GNU: MK, EFF, ACTION SA, Al Jama-ah
  • Want intervention: UDM, BOSA, ACDP, UAT, ATM, PAC
  • To be determined: FF+, RISE MZANSI, GOOD, CCC

Late on Wednesday, 12 June, Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) leader Velenkosini Hlabisa publicly announced that his party decided that it would form part of the GNU at a national level.

“The voters spoke loud and clear that they are not giving one political party a majority to govern alone in the national government,” said Hlabisa at the press conference.

“The people of South Africa who voted said that political parties must find each other, find common ground, put the interests of the country first and take South Africa forward,” he added.

Hlabisa said that by Friday, they will finalise their participation plans in the GNU, additionally clarifying that reports of him becoming the second deputy president are untrue due to lack of constitutional basis.

Additionally, Hlabisa said that the IFP is working to try and form a provincial government in the hung-province of KwaZulu-Natal, along with the ANC, Democratic Alliance (DA) and National Freedom Party (NFP).

Patriotic Alliance (PA) leader Gayton McKenzie also revealed on Wednesday that his party has reached a decision to form “part of the Government of National Unity.” McKenzie said that the PA have made their requests for either the Home Affairs or Police Ministry position explicit in all negotiations and agreements.

Still, the IFP and PA’s official backing of the ANC’s proposal of a GNU is not enough to form a government, which would make up a collective 185 out of the 400 seats.

The IFP has expressed its preference to work with the DA, the second largest party holding 87 crucial seats, which has not yet fully committed to joining the GNU.

The DA has held its cards relatively close to its chest, revealing that it is open to forming part of a GNU with parties that share common core governing principles, including “respect for the Constitution.”

“Whatever final decision we make, it will be informed by having full knowledge of what we will be getting ourselves into or what we will not be getting ourselves into,” said DA spokesperson Solly Malatsi, who indicated in an interview with eNCA that the party may reveal its hand later today (13 June).

The party, which has been partaking in the GNU negotiations, has said that it would agree to be part of the set-up if former president Jacob Zuma’s uMkhonto we Sizwe (MK) party and the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) were excluded from the government.

The ANC has said that it has “reached out to everyone” including MK, but received the cold shoulder from Zuma’s party.

Additionally, some demands from MK for co-governance, including the removal of ANC President Cyril Ramaphosa, has been seen as a line in the sand that the parties cannot agree on.

The fourth largest political party, the EFF, have made it explicit that it would not go into any cogoverning agreement involving the DA or the Freedom Front Plus (VF Plus).

Resultingly, EFF Deputy President Floyd Shivambu recently told Newzroom Afrika that negotiations with the ANC have not seen much consolidation, with them yet to find any form of consensus as the clock continues to tick.

Other parties with smaller representation in Parliament, including Rise Mzansi and GOOD, have also revealed that they are among the parties engaging the ANC and other organisations to form a GNU.

The parties have not revealed their final stance, but have said that they want to support a constitutional framework and a make-up of government that is going to “continue to do the work of government and serving the interests of citizens.”

Various other parties with ‘smaller representation’ in Parliament, including the United Democratic Movement (UDM), Build One South Africa (BOSA), African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP), United Africans Transformation (UAT), African Transformation Movement (ATM) and the Pan Africanist Congress of Azania (PAC) requested intervention from Chief Justice Raymond Zondo to appoint a retired judge to facilitate discussions on forming a GNU.

However, Zondo denied this request, saying that he understands the circumstances around it, but concedes that it is not his mandate to do so.

Action SA, which has six seats in Parliament, has made it explicit that it will not form part of the GNU and will choose to be a “constructive, unofficial opposition.”

The Al Jama-ah party, which has two sets, has also rejected an invitation to form part of a GNU.

Read: Big shake-up for provinces in South Africa is coming

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