South Africa’s national unity talks between the ANC and the DA continue

image source, Good pictures

image caption, The ruling ANC has lost its parliamentary majority for the first time in 30 years

  • author, Barbara Flett Usher
  • stock, BBC Africa Correspondent
  • Report from City end

as South Africa’s parliament is meeting for the first time since the ruling African National Congress (ANC) lost its majority in last month’s election, with negotiations to form a new government still ongoing.

The ANC says it has made a “breakthrough” in forming a national unity government, but it was too quick to provide details.

Former leader of the opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) Helen Cille, who is representing the party at the talks, told the BBC she would not support the re-election of President Cyril Ramaphosa unless an agreement was reached.

One of the first acts of parliament on Friday is expected to be a secret vote on whether Mr Ramaphosa will continue as president.

The session is being held at the Convention Center in Cape Town after the parliament complex was damaged in a fire two years ago.

These measures are unprecedented because the ANC does not have an absolute majority and has yet to form a government.

However, Ms Zille said the two sides were very close to an agreement.

“At two o’clock this morning we thought we had a final deal, but some issues have arisen this morning and they are trying to sort them out.”

The ANC lost its parliamentary majority for the first time in 30 years in the 29 May election, taking 40% of the vote.

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This meant Mr Ramaphosa needed the support of other parties to stay in power.

“We are talking to the political parties as we are now and cannot give any more details,” ANC secretary-general Fikile Mbalula told reporters after a meeting of the party’s top brass on Thursday evening.

He said it would be a move to the political center, as the ANC’s breakaway parties from the left have said they will not join a coalition.

He said parties including the pro-business DA have agreed to form a national unity government.

But the ANC and DA disagreed on how exactly they would cooperate, Mr Mbalula added.

“If the DA gets some of these things it wants, it will mean the death of the ANC,” he said.

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

DA spokesman Mr Malatsi told the BBC’s Newsday programme: “There were still very important matters which had to be completed by the end of yesterday. [Thursday]. That is not the case because of the nature of the negotiations we are engaged in.”

The Zulu nationalist Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) has already announced its participation in a government of national unity. came fifth with 4% of the vote.

President Ramaphosa has previously accused the DA – which mainly draws support from ethnic minorities – of “treason” and “regression”.

Ms Zille said the DA and ANC had been “strong enemies for decades” and trying to build trust in 10 days was a “challenge”.

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

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The party is an advocate of a free market economy, which conflicts with the ANC’s leftist traditions, and is seen by its critics as representing the interests of the white minority.

The ANC has announced a coalition called the Government of National Unity (GNU), but it has failed to get the third and fourth largest parties – former president Jacob Zuma’s uMkhonto weSizwe (MK) party and Julius Malema’s Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) – to join it.

MK made Mr Ramaphosa’s resignation one of the conditions for entering a coalition, but the ANC rejected the demand.

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

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

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

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