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South Africa Government Formed After Tough Coalition Deal With Opposition

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South Africa Government Formed After Tough Coalition Deal With Opposition

Johannesburg:

South African president Cyril Ramaphosa announced his new government on Sunday with the opposition receiving 12 out of 32 portfolios following tough coalition negotiations after the ruling ANC lost its outright parliamentary majority.

The African National Congress, which has governed the country since the advent of democracy in 1994, retained 20 out of 32 cabinet positions, including key ministries such as foreign affairs, finance, defence, justice and police. 

The largest coalition partner, the Democratic Alliance (DA), will hold six portfolios including home affairs, environment and public works.

The DA’s leader John Steenhuisen, 48, was appointed Minister of Agriculture. 

The Zulu nationalist Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) and other smaller parties scored six in total including land reform, correctional services, sports, tourism and public service. 

“The establishment of the Government of National Unity in its current form is unprecedented in the history of our democracy,” the 71-year-old Ramaphosa said, speaking from Pretoria in a televised speech. 

He was re-elected for a second full term last week, to lead what his humbled ANC calls a government of national unity (GNU) after losing its outright majority in the May 29 general election. 

“The incoming government will prioritise rapid, inclusive and sustainable economic growth and a creation of a more just society by tackling poverty and inequality as well as unemployment,” he said.

Adding that he had to “ensure all the parties are able to participate meaningfully in the national executive as well as various parliamentary positions”.

The only other time South Africa has opted for a national unity government was at the end of apartheid, with Nelson Mandela and FW de Klerk, the former leader of the government, overseeing the transition to democracy as executive deputy presidents. 

Tough negotiations

The ANC’s fall from grace came against a backdrop of high violent crime rates, a lacklustre economy and a crippling energy crisis. 

Ramaphosa’s highly anticipated announcement comes after weeks of tough negotiations between the ANC and the DA, which won 87 parliamentary seats (22 percent of the popular vote) compared to the ANC’s 159 (40 percent). 

The turbulent build-up to the country’s new government was met with criticism from the country’s leftist parties, including the uMkhonto weSizwe (MK) party, a new grouping formed a few months ahead of the poll by the country’s former president Jacob Zuma, 82. 

The MK party came out of nowhere to win more than 14 percent of votes nationwide in the tense poll and now well be the country’s official opposition after refusing to join the ANC’s broad coalition.

Along with the leftist firebrand party the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), it shunned the ANC’s broad coalition with the DA as a “white-led unholy alliance”. 

The ANC had previously accused the DA of making “outrageous demands” for key cabinet positions in documents leaked to the press following weeks of closed-doors negotiations. 

Ramaphosa has called for the opening of the new parliament on July 18 to address MPs and outline guidelines of how his new coalition government, involving 11 parties, will work.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)



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