SOUTH AFRICA: ANC Faces Coalition Conundrum After Electoral Setback

South Africa’s ruling African National Congress (ANC) is grappling with a critical dilemma following its significant loss of parliamentary majority in the recent election. With only 40% of the vote secured, the ANC now needs to secure a coalition partner to ensure a majority in parliament and support its choice of president, unless it opts for a minority government.

One potential coalition option is with the Democratic Alliance (DA), the second-largest party with 22% of the vote. However, this poses political risks as the DA’s critics accuse it of defending the economic privileges of the white minority established during apartheid.

Alternatively, the ANC could consider partnering with two radical parties, uMkhonto weSizwe (MK) led by former President Jacob Zuma, or Julius Malema’s Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF). These parties, along with the ANC, represent the black majority, accounting for a combined vote of 65%. However, Mr. Malema has warned against forming a coalition that would “reinforce white supremacy.”

While President Cyril Ramaphosa has indicated a willingness to form a coalition with the DA, significant policy differences pose obstacles. The DA opposes the ANC’s efforts to establish a welfare state and rejects proposals for a government-funded national health service.

Another option for the ANC is to partner with MK, which secured 15% of the vote in its first electoral contest. However, MK is demanding a fresh poll, alleging electoral fraud. Additionally, there is substantial animosity between MK and the ANC, fueled by personal conflicts between Zuma and Ramaphosa.

Despite tensions, there may be potential for agreement on key issues, such as land reform, between the ANC and the EFF. However, achieving a two-thirds majority for constitutional amendments remains challenging.

The DA strongly opposes a coalition involving its rivals, labeling it a “Doomsday Coalition” that would lead South Africa into turmoil. However, some ANC members argue that excluding MK, given its electoral success in KwaZulu-Natal, could exacerbate instability, especially amid looming legal battles involving Zuma.

As South Africa navigates this complex political landscape, finding common ground among diverse parties will be crucial for charting the nation’s future path.

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