ANC to seek government of national unity after losing majority in historic election


South Africa’s African National Congress (ANC) will invite other political parties to form a government of national unity, its leader, President Cyril Ramaphosa, has announced.

This decision followed last week’s election where the ANC lost its majority for the first time since the end of apartheid 30 years ago.

According to the BBC, Ramaphosa called for a national dialogue to help rebuild social cohesion after a “toxic and divisive” election campaign.

Political parties have just over a week to form a government before parliament convened to elect the president.

Under South Africa’s proportional representation system, a government needs to be formed of parties that together received more than 50 percent of the vote to have a guaranteed majority.

The ANC took a 40 percent share, the center-right Democratic Alliance (DA) received 22 percent, the MK party of former President Jacob Zuma garnered 15 percent, and the radical Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) got 9 percent.

Ramaphosa spoke late on Thursday after the ANC’s National Executive Committee (NEC) held a marathon meeting in Johannesburg, acknowledging the people’s complaints.

“We agreed to invite political parties to form a government of national unity as the best option to move our country forward,” he said.

His announcement followed days of speculation about the ANC’s options, including pursuing a minority government or a coalition with one or two parties.

Ultimately, the president invited all the ANC’s political opponents to engage in talks on co-governing the country.

Read More: President Ramaphosa faces unprecedented pressure as ANC suffers worst election defeat in 30 years

Ramaphosa framed the proposal for a national unity government within the historical precedent of South Africa’s first democracy.

He mentioned that negotiators had already held “constructive discussions” with the DA and the IFP, as well as the EFF, an ANC breakaway party that advocates seizing white-owned land and nationalizing banks and mines.

The DA had stated it would not participate in any government that includes the EFF, but Ramaphosa said ideological and political differences would not “preclude the possibility of working with any party so long as it is in the public interest.”

The ANC’s five-member negotiating team would now be meeting with a “broad range of parties” to discuss the proposal.

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