ANC pins hopes on Government of National Unity

 ·6 Jun 2024

The African National Congress (ANC) National Executive Committee (NEC) has mandated its negotiation teams to approach South Africa’s disparate and ideologically opposed political parties to try to form part of a Government of National Unity (GNU).

The decision to attempt to form a broad coalition government consisting of all parties represented in the national legislature was announced by ANC president Cyril Ramaphosa at a media briefing late on Thursday night, 6 June, following a day-long meeting of the party’s top brass.

The ANC, which has ruled South Africa since the inception of its democracy in 1994, fell well under 50% of the national vote in the May 29th general election, receiving around 40% of the vote.

“The people of South Africa have made their wishes known, and we accept the election outcomes as the will of the people,” said Ramaphosa.

However, he added that “the ANC’s 40% means that the ANC remains a pivotal part of our country [as they remain the country’s largest political party]…. and there can be no solutions in the country without the ANC.”

As a result, he said that the party views that the “best way forward” would be to form a GNU “to tackle job creation, the growth of our economy that is inclusive, the high cost of living, service delivery, crime and corruption.”

“This moment calls for the broadest unity… and multi-party co-operation is needed if we are to overcome these [abovementioned] challenges,” said Ramaphosa

He said that establishing a GNU would be “building on a very rich history of cooperation across divides of politics and ideologies… drawing on experiences when the country was experiencing great difficulties,” as seen in the GNU in the country’s first post-apartheid administration.

Ramaphosa said that the ANC is willing to engage with any party “that wants to advance the interests of South Africa.”

However, in order to form part of the GNU, Ramaphosa said that parties should commit to “shared values, nation building, and cohesion.”

These values include “respect of the Constitution and the rule of law, social justice and equity, human dignity, non-racialism, non-sexism, stability, transparency, integrity , community participation, and good governance,” said Ramaphosa.

Additionally, Ramaphosa said that all agreements should be transparent, with measures to hold all those involved accountable. As such, he calls for a signed “common minimum programme that focuses on measurable growth and inclusion.”

Some analysts have said that the ANC opting to form a GNU was the ‘safer’ option for the party to ultimately avoid explicitly aligning with a coalition partner that would be unpopular among segments of its members and supporters.

However, given the wide-ranging ideologies, there are still risks of potential instability and gridlock within such a government due to the necessity of managing multiple partners with diverse interests.

“The ANC notes that we do have ideological and political differences with several parties in our political landscape. However, we will not preclude the possibility of working with any party so long as it is in the public interest, and it is in keeping with the [abovementioned] principles,” said Ramaphosa.

Read: South Africa coalition talks update: No easy options for the ANC

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