South Africans react to the new coalition government led by Cyril Ramaphosa

Screenshot of President Cyril Ramaphosa giving a speech from YouTube video, ‘Cyril Ramaphosa reelected as South Africa president for second term‘ by Associated Press. Fair use.

The May 29 elections in South Africa marked a historic turning point as the ruling African National Congress (ANC) failed to secure the necessary majority for the first time. Garnering just over 40 percent of the vote, the ANC fell short of the crucial threshold of just over 50 percent needed to govern independently. This outcome compelled the party to form a coalition government, signaling a significant shift in electoral dynamics, and reshaping the nation's political landscape.

During the negotiations for the coalition formation, the ANC had the option to form a coalition with the Democratic Alliance (DA), uMkhonto weSizwe (MK), and the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), which received almost 22 percent, 14.6 percent, and 9.5 percent of the votes respectively. Cyril Ramaphosa’s ANC won 159 out of the 400 parliamentary seats, a decrease from the 230 seats it secured in 2019. John Steenhuisen’s DA obtained 87 parliamentary seats, former President Jacob Zuma’s MK party secured 58 seats, and Julius Malema’s EFF received 39 seats.

Considering that the DA used to be one of the ANC’s fiercest political foes, many citizens expected the ANC to partner with either MK or EFF. However, as reported by African Feeds, the ANC struck a coalition deal with the DA. The announcement came on the eve of the first sitting of South Africa’s new parliament, where DA leader John Steenhuisen announced in a speech to the nation that his party would end its long-held opposition to the ANC by voting for Ramaphosa for president. The two parties, along with other parties, have agreed to form a broad coalition government. The Inkatha Freedom Party, which has a home base of KwaZulu-Natal and other smaller parties, 10 in total, including the Patriotic Alliance (PA), are part of the “unity government.” As part of this agreement, DA member Annelie Lotrie will be elected as the deputy speaker of the national assembly. The radical left EFF and populist MK refused to participate in a government that included the DA.

In response to this arrangement, Julius Malema is noted to have stated, “History will judge you and judge you harshly,” Malema said. “This is not a government of national unity. This is a grand coalition between the ANC and white monopoly capital.”

As highlighted in this Tik Tok video, some political observers think the partnership between the ANC and DA is ideal since this will attract investors. However, many people of color claim that this party prioritizes the interest of whites, an allegation the DA denies. In addition, a video was circulated online in which one of their members, Renaldo Gouws, who is white, is seen and heard calling for the killing of Black people. The party suspended Gouws on June 20.

While some people are optimistic about the ANC and DA’s coalition government, others are not very happy about it. 

One user on TikTok commented on this video: “I am patriotic about South Africa. Let's work together beyond racial divide to serve South Africa at large, not individuals who see themselves as invisible.”

Another user who felt disappointed said, “We've been sold by ANC.”

Recently, the DA issued a letter to the ANC making demands for about 11 ministers and the deputy presidency position and wanting to fire director generals in those portfolios.

As reported by SABC news, President Ramaphosa, in response, penned a scathing reply to DA Leader John Steenhuisen, accusing him of shifting goalposts in negotiations over cabinet positions. In the letter seen by SABC, Ramaphosa stated that he informed Steenhuisen that they found the letter from DA Federal Chairperson Helen Zille offensive, condescending, and inconsistent with the Constitution.

Some social media users took to social media to share their views on these demands.

Commenting on the Tik Tok video below, one user asked, “Can the ANC still change their mind and talk to EFF, MK and others or are they bound to this?”

@portiandlovu563 #duet with #greenscreen ♬ original sound –

Another user on X said:

As highlighted by the African Diaspora News, the ANC has enjoyed 30 years of uninterrupted rule, including the tenure of Nelson Mandela the anti-apartheid hero who became South Africa's first Black president. His presidency marked the end of the shackles of apartheid and improved livelihoods for South Africans. Mandela’s policies focused on racial reconciliation and dismantling structures of apartheid in which the minority white population dominated every aspect of life, as well as economic recovery. Many believe he is the reason people still vote for the ANC today, for he launched freedom for the country in 1994

Despite its historical significance, as noted by The Conversation, the ANC's neglect of reforms, corruption, and the demand for better employment and infrastructure —particularly reliable electricity — has created dissatisfaction among the populace. This neglect led to slower industrial growth and declining living standards in the country.

As noted by The Conversation, the era of single-party dominance is over, giving way to a more diverse political landscape. With 15 registered political parties in South Africa, most of which participated in the election, this shift is a positive development for democracy.

However, it remains to be seen whether this ANC and DA coalition government will succeed in collaborating effectively to address the challenges that South Africans face.

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