Which parties could South Africa’s ANC go into coalition with?

Estimated read time 3 min read

South Africa is facing the uncertain possibility of a coalition government after a collapse in support for the ruling African National Congress party in Wednesday’s election meant it probably will not reach the 50% vote share needed for it to rule on its own. Here is a guide to the three main contenders for coalition partners:

Democratic Alliance

South Africa’s biggest opposition party, the Democratic Alliance (DA), campaigned on the slogan “Rescue South Africa”, with a controversial election advertisement that featured the national flag burning.

The DA, which runs the Western Cape province that includes Cape Town, is economically liberal and its pledges included a “balanced approach” to privatising state-owned companies. Many black South Africans mistrust the cobalt blue-branded party, believing it favours the interests of white people. DA leaders say it is a “non-racial” party.

Its leader, John Steenhuisen, became a DA city councillor in the port city of Durban at the age of 22. He has not ruled out a coalition with the ANC, saying he wants to save South Africa from a leftwing “doomsday coalition” of the ANC, MK and EFF.

Steenhuisen, 48, took over as leader in 2019 after his black predecessor, Mmusi Maimane, resigned, claiming that his efforts to win over more black voters had been undermined.

uMkhonto we Sizwe

The uMkhonto we Sizwe (MK) party was only launched in December and looks set to be South Africa’s third-largest party after it capitalised on the enduring popularity of its leader, the former president Jacob Zuma, particularly in his home province of KwaZulu-Natal. This was despite Zuma being barred from standing in the election due to a 2021 prison sentence for contempt of court.

The MK said it wanted to get a two-thirds parliamentary majority so it could move from constitutional democracy to parliamentary supremacy. It also wants to increase the power of traditional leaders, nationalise banks and expropriate land without compensation, dating South Africa’s “prolonged period of national shame” back to 1652, when the first Dutch settlement was established.

Zuma, 82, joined the ANC as a teenager and became its intelligence chief during apartheid. He was president from 2009 to 2018, when he was forced to resign amid allegations of “state capture”.

Jacob Zuma gestures with his hands in the air

A judicial inquiry alleged that Zuma replaced competent officials with loyalists and influenced the awarding of large contracts, in order to benefit business people. He is also due to go on trial next year over allegations that he accepted bribes in a 1999 arms deal. Zuma has always denied corruption allegations.

Economic Freedom Fighters

The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) was founded in 2013 by the former ANC youth leader Julius Malema after he was expelled from the ruling party for “sowing division”. Known for its red beret-wearing members and disruptive parliamentary protests, it describes itself as anti-imperialist and inspired by Marxism.

Julius Malema, wearing a Palestinian scarf, puts his vote in a ballot box flanked by two people

EFF policies include taking land from white farmers and nationalising mines, banks and “other strategic sectors”, without compensation. It says that apartheid did not end in 1994, arguing that the democratic settlement left the economy in the hands of “white monopoly capital”, a message that resonates in a country where four in 10 adults are unemployed.

Malema, 43, is the son of a domestic worker from Limpopo, north of the capital Pretoria. A charismatic speaker, Malema has also drawn attention for his expensive cars and houses. In 2015, a court threw out corruption charges related to government contracts. Malema had denied the allegations, labelling them a government conspiracy against him.

Source: theguardian.com

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