ANC to engage other parties for 'unity' govt in South Africa: Ramaphosa

The African National Congress (ANC), which failed to get a majority in the national elections last week, has decided to engage other parties to form a national unity government, President Cyril Ramaphosa has announced.
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa

Johannesburg | The African National Congress (ANC), which failed to get a majority in the national elections last week, has decided to engage other parties to form a national unity government, President Cyril Ramaphosa has announced.

Addressing a media conference close to midnight on Thursday after a marathon session of the ANC National Executive Committee (NEC), Ramaphosa said the party had heard what the people of South Africa wanted.

“Understanding the needs of the country, and appreciating the express will of the people, the NEC has agreed to seek agreement amongst parties on the formation of a government of national unity,” Ramaphosa said, ending over a week of speculation on the future of the country after his party received only 40 per cent of the ballots cast last week.

It was the first time that the ANC did not get a majority since Nelson Mandela first led it to victory 30 years ago after decades of minority white apartheid rule.

“A government of national unity (GNU) is the most viable, the most effective and the most powerful way of meeting the expectations of all South Africans at this particular moment,” Ramaphosa said.

A five-member task team from the ANC will now engage other parties on the proposal, which emphasises that respect for the Constitution and the rule of law was among the values that must be included as common principles as the GNU tackles challenges that South Africans want resolved – reducing unemployment through job creation, rampant crime, corruption, as well as economic growth and improving service delivery.

“It is both strategic and necessary that we act in a manner that seeks to unite the broadest range of social forces and isolate those that seek to cause chaos and instability”, Ramaphosa said, in what analysts saw as a clear reference to not working with the uMkhonto we Sizwe (MK) party started by ousted former president Jacob Zuma, which got 14 per cent of the vote last week to place it in third position after the Democratic Alliance, which got 22 per cent.

Zuma has alleged irregularities in the voting without providing any evidence and threatened to do “something that had not been seen in the country before”. He also repeated earlier comments about the Constitution and the judiciary not being effective.

Ramaphosa reassured South Africans that they should not have any fear about the decision.

“When the results were released last week, there was a measure of fear that the outcomes would lead to fragmentation and instability. Following incidents that tended towards polarisation there was a measure of fear as well that South Africans would not be able to work together. There was also fear that the transformation of our society would be disrupted and that our efforts to rebuild the economy would be derailed.

“Yet, the NEC has determined that this outcome presents an opportunity to forge a more inclusive, cooperative and effective approach to government. It presents to the people of South Africa an opportunity to bring political parties and social partners together to address the challenges that concern most South Africans,” the president said.

He also thanks the millions of South Africans who voted, irrespective of which party they voted for.

"Our democracy has been hugely enhanced and the people of our country have spoken and we accept their vote and the way they have concluded," Ramaphosa said.

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