ANC Mulls National Unity Government After Majority Crumbles in South Africa Vote

An influential ANC committee has recommended forming a government of national unity after the party lost its parliamentary majority for the first time since apartheid’s end. In May’s election, the ANC’s share collapsed to 40.2% amid economic woes and a surprise third-place challenge from former president Jacob Zuma’s new MK party.

ANC spokesperson Mahlengi Bhengu-Motsiri said the 27-member working committee’s proposal reflects voters’ desire for a multi-party arrangement benefiting South Africa. She said the ANC reached out to all parties, including the second-place Democratic Alliance (DA) and fourth-place Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF). However, the DA ruled out working with the EFF, while the EFF’s Julius Malema dismissed a national unity government, saying he only engages the white-led DA “out of principle.”

Some analysts believe the major parties may ultimately unite given the lure of power. One said it makes the most sense for the ANC and DA to the coalition, though both could suffer politically. A national unity government may appease all players. The DA and EFF are likely to overcome differences due to “a lot of power attached.”

MK says it won’t work with the ANC under President Ramaphosa and is preparing a legal challenge over the results. Bhengu-Motsiri said the ANC repeatedly reached out to MK with no positive response.

The national executive committee will weigh the unity proposal and options like a minority government on Thursday. With no majority, the ANC needs support to govern. While unlikely bedfellows, pragmatism may unite even bitter rivals in a national unity government to share power.