South Africa’s Government of National Unity grows to 10 as cabinet reshuffle looms

 ·24 Jun 2024

Ten political parties represented in Parliament have now signed the statement of intent to form part of the Government of National Unity (GNU).

Since last reporting (18 June), five more parties have signed the statement of intent to join the co-governing agreement between the African National Congress (ANC), Democratic Alliance (DA), Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP), Patriotic Alliance (PA) and GOOD.

These new parties include:

  • Freedom Front Plus (FF+);
  • United Democratic Movement (UDM);
  • Rise Mzansi;
  • Al Jama-ah;
  • and the Pan Africanist Congress of Azania (PAC).

The 10 out of the 18 parties represented in the National Assembly that have agreed to form part of the GNU collectively hold 287 out of 400 seats, which accounts for 71.75% of the total.

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

Graphic: Seth Thorne

The recent addition of the UDM, Al Jama-ah, and the PAC is seen as a setback for the self-proclaimed “progressive bloc,” who left the grouping.

This bloc is now left with Jacob Zuma’s uMkhonto we Sizwe (MK) Party, the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), the African Transformations Movement (ATM) and United Africans Transformation (UAT).

The formation of the co-governing agreement resulted from no single political party achieving an outright majority in the May 29th general elections, with the ANC dropping to just over 39% of support nationally.

A recent statement published by the ANC said that the “first phase” of having parties join the GNU has now been concluded, and with over 70% of the vote in the NA, the coalition boasts “broad representativity and a strong mandate to govern.”

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 next big hurdle is for President Cyril Ramaphosa to constitute a Cabinet that will appease the ANC, its alliance partners, and members of the GNU.

ANC leader Ramaphosa was nominated and elected as state President in Parliament on 14 June with the support of GNU parties.

As a result, they are expected to be “rewarded” with cabinet appointments, which are expected to be based on proportional representation.

Clause 16 of the statement of intent says that the GNU will be constituted by “broadly taking into account the number of seats parties have in the National Assembly… the President shall, in constituting the Executive, take into account the electoral outcomes.”

Additionally, “such appointments should be done in consultation with the Leaders of the respective Parties of the Members considered for appointment.”

PartyNational Assembly seatsGNU bloc share
FF +62%
Rise Mzansi2>1%
Al Jama-ah2>1%
The GNU composition as of the morning of 24 June 2024.

The ANC said that engagements with signatory parties to the GNU on the formation of the Executive are ongoing, and President Ramaphosa will announce appointments “in the coming days.”

The delay in the announcement of the cabinet is a result of reported friction between large GNU partners

Sunday Times reported that the DA has been unhappy with the ANC’s offer in negotiations and is pushing for substantial representation, including key economic portfolios and the appointment of DA leader John Steenhuisen as deputy president.

The ANC has reportedly told the DA that with more parties joining the GNU, fewer Cabinet posts are available, while the DA claims that they have not been sufficiently consulted about some of the GNU’s new entrants.

However, the ANC said that the parties which have signed the statement of intent “have agreed to be bound by the foundational principles outlined” and that any party that wishes to join from now onwards will be subject to agreement from pre-existing parties.

Read: The cabinet positions the DA, IFP and PA have eyes on

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