ANC nears South Africa powersharing deal with opposition party

Conclusion of agreement could see Cyril Ramaphosa sworn in on Friday for second full term as president

South African president Cyril Ramaphosa may be sworn in for a second full term by lawmakers on Friday. Photograph: Phill Magakoe/AFP via Getty Images

South Africa’s ruling African National Congress and the opposition Democratic Alliance are nearing a deal on a power-sharing agreement that would allow parliament to re-elect Cyril Ramaphosa as president.

Conclusion of a deal could see Mr Ramaphosa elected and sworn in for his second full term by lawmakers on Friday. The rand strengthened on Thursday as talks progressed.

Under the pact, which still needed to be approved by the ANC’s union affiliates and national executive committee, its main decision-making body, the pro-market DA could secure several cabinet positions in a coalition that would also involve the Zulu-dominated Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP).

“It is very close, but nothing has been signed yet,” said one person close to the negotiations. “Nearly all the hurdles have been cleared.”


On Wednesday, IFP leader Velenkosini Hlabisa said his party would join an ANC-DA coalition. Mr Inkatha’s involvement would help it appeal to Zulu voters who deserted the ANC for former president Jacob Zuma’s uMkhonto weSizwe (MK) party.

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While Mr Ramaphosa has dubbed the potential arrangement as a “government of national unity” to help convince ANC leftwingers resistant to a deal with the DA, neither MK nor the radical Economic Freedom Fighters, led by Julius Malema, appear likely to be part of any coalition.

Mr Malema told a press conference on Thursday he had met Mr Ramaphosa and told him the EFF would not be part of any government that included the DA and MK party as “they represent colonialism” and “white supremacy”.

“This is the end of the ANC,” Mr Malema said.

The ANC’s national executive was meeting on Thursday night and was expected to announce its final decision on the power-sharing deal later.

“The rand has been rallying now on the assumption that the EFF are pulling out,” said Jason Swartz, a fund manager at financial services company Old Mutual Investment Group. “Talk of a DA involvement in the government has led to a pop in the currency.”

Frans Cronje, a political analyst, said the DA had ended up pushing for a full-blown coalition as the price of its support for Mr Ramaphosa, whose party scored a historic low of 40 per cent in last month’s election.

Mr Cronje said a peaceful transition to a coalition would be a significant achievement for South Africa’s democracy, avoiding both a market-upending shift leftward or the violence threatened by Mr Zuma, who disputes the election result.

“Look where we are and where we aren’t,” Mr Cronje said. “We aren’t at a radical populist collapse and we don’t have shooting in the streets.”

Parliament will convene on Friday to elect a new president, speaker and MPs in the absence of an ANC majority for the first time in 30 years.

On Wednesday, the party met its alliance partners, labour federation Cosatu and the South African Communist Party (SACP), to present its proposals.

While SACP secretary general Solly Mapaila has previously spoken of “rejecting” a coalition with either the DA and MK, Cosatu appeared more open to a deal.

“The DA will always be a tough sell,” said Cosatu’s spokesman Matthew Parks, referring to the liberal economic agenda of the DA, which is led by John Steenhuisen and has traditionally been the party of white and other minority voters. But he said Cosatu understood “the ANC’s logic, given the challenges we’re facing as a country and [given] that it didn’t win a majority”. – Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2024