Government of National Unity now has a supermajority in South Africa

 ·18 Jun 2024

The African National Congress (ANC), Democratic Alliance (DA), Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP), Patriotic Alliance (PA) and GOOD have thus far signed the statement of intent to form part of the Government of National Unity (GNU).

On June 17, the ANC published a statement updating the nation on the parties represented in the National Assembly (NA) who intend to form part of the co-governing agreement.

The five parties that have signed the statement of intent make up 273 out of the 400 seats in the NA (68%).

This gives the GNU a supermajority in the National Assembly, where a two-thirds majority (or 66.6%) is needed to make sweeping changes, like changing the country’s Constitution.

Notably, the ANC would also have just been able to hit this target had it aligned with the so-called “progressive bloc”—comprising the MK party and EFF, among others—which would have resulted in a 265-seat government (66.3%).

Graphic: Seth Thorne

The GNU sees a coalition of disparate political parties represented in national and provincial legislatures, with committed parties working together in both the executive and legislature (Cabinet and parliamentary positions) based on proportional representation.

Given that no party received an outright majority in the May 29th elections to form a government on their own, “the GNU emerged as the optimal approach to defend and advance our vision of a united, democratic, non-racial, non-sexist and prosperous South Africa,” said ANC secretary general Fikile Mbalula.

According to this statement of intent, parties that want to form part of the GNU must commit to upholding various principles and work towards nine broad priorities.

The ANC said that it is still looking to rope in more parties represented in the legislatures.

“Discussions with other parties are ongoing in the spirit of inclusivity…. [we] invite parties who resolved to define themselves outside this effort to reconsider and join the GNU,” said Mbalula

“All parties represented in legislatures remain welcome to join the GNU even after its formation,” the ANC secretary general added.

Ongoing discussions to join the GNU include that with the Freedom Front Plus (6 seats in the legislature), whose spokesperson Wouter Wessels told the Daily Maverick that the party had recently been approached by the ANC and had received the statement of intent. 

“We are still proposing certain amendments or giving input into the agreement… we are still busy with that before we sign [and] obviously, we will also firstly get approval from our structures,” said Wessels.

Parties that have declined

Even though the ANC has stated that they are open to parties on the opposition benches changing their stance, many parties have explicitly expressed that they are unlikely to change their minds.

The uMkhonto we Sizwe (MK) Party, Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), African Transformation Movement (ATM), Al Jama-Ah, United Democratic Movement (UDM), United Africans Transformation (UAT) and the Pan Africanist Congress (PAC) have formed a self-titled ‘progressive caucus’ as a “unified opposition” against the GNU.

These parties have made it explicit that they would not join the GNU with certain members of the current composition, with some parties in the GNU, like the DA, saying the same about the MK and EFF.

Other parties like ActionSA and Rise Mzansi have said that they have opted not to form part of the GNU and will be the unofficial opposition to the GNU.

How will it be governed?

“The GNU will ensure representation in government and legislatures by all participating parties, making decisions by consensus, with mechanisms for conflict resolution where necessary,” said Mbalula

“The President will exercise the prerogative to appoint the Cabinet, in consultation with leaders of GNU parties, adhering to existing protocols on government decision-making and budgeting,” added the statement.

The statement of intent (the original version without the signatures of the IFP, PA and GOOD) can be found below.

Read: South Africa’s President, Speaker and Deputy Speaker elected in GNU clean sweep

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