Talks for a national unity government continue in South Africa between the ANC and the Democratic Alliance

Image source, Getty Images

Comment on the photo, The ruling African National Congress lost its parliamentary majority for the first time in 30 years

  • author, Barbara Plett Asher
  • Role, BBC Africa correspondent
  • Report from Cape town

like South Africa’s parliament meets for the first time since the ruling African National Congress lost its majority in last month’s elections, and negotiations are still ongoing on forming a new government.

The African National Congress says it has achieved a “breakthrough” in forming a national unity government, but it is too early to provide details.

Helen Zille, former leader of the opposition Democratic Alliance, who was representing the party at the talks, told the BBC that if an agreement was not reached, she would not support the re-election of President Cyril Ramaphosa.

One of Parliament’s first duties on Friday is expected to be to hold a secret vote on whether Ramaphosa will remain president or not.

But Ms Zell said the two sides were very close to reaching an agreement.

“This morning at 2 a.m. we thought we had reached a final agreement, but this morning some issues have come up and they are just trying to work it out.”

The ANC lost its parliamentary majority for the first time in 30 years in the May 29 elections, receiving 40% of the votes.

This means that Ramaphosa’s survival in power requires the support of other parties.

He said it would be a move to the political center, because splinter ANC parties on the left said they would not join a coalition.

He said the parties, including the pro-business Democratic Alliance, had agreed to form a national unity government.

Mbalula added that the ANC and the Democratic Alliance had not agreed on exactly how they would cooperate.

“If the Democratic Alliance gets some of these things it wants, it means the ANC will die,” he added.

The DA came second in the election with 22% of the vote.

Malazzi, a spokesman for the Democratic Alliance, told the BBC’s Newsday programme: “There are still major outstanding issues that should have been finalized by the end of yesterday.” [Thursday]. “This was not the case due to the nature of the negotiations we were conducting.”

The Zulu nationalist Inkatha Freedom Party said it would participate in a national unity government. He came in fifth place with 4% of the votes.

President Ramaphosa had previously accused the Democratic Alliance – which draws its support mainly from ethnic minorities – of being “traitorous” and “reactionary”.

Ms Zille said the DA and the ANC had been “strong rivals for decades” and that trying to build confidence in 10 days had been a “challenge”.

Any deal with the DA would be unpopular among many ANC activists.

The party is pro-free market economics, which is contrary to the leftist traditions of the ANC, and is seen by its critics as representing the interests of the white minority.

The MK had set Mr Ramaphosa’s resignation as one of the conditions for entering into a coalition, but the ANC rejected the request.

Malema said on Thursday evening that the Front had refused to join a government that included the Democratic Alliance, saying it was part of an “imperialist agenda.”

Both the MK and EFF also demanded changes to the constitution to allow nationalization, including of white-owned land and banks.

Ramaphosa opposed this, saying the ANC would not form a coalition with parties that wanted to change the constitution.

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