South African President Cyril Ramaphosa. Source: Global Information Network - Photo: 2024

For The First Time, ANC Loses Its Parliamentary Majority In Historic Election Defeat

By Lisa Vives, Global Information Network

NEW YORK | 2 June 2024 (IDN) — The African National Congress, South Africa’s liberation party, appears to have lost its parliamentary majority for the first time in a historic election defeat.

Results show that after 30 years as the majority party, the ANC tallied only around 40% of the vote, a steep fall from 57% in the last national poll. All the ballots have now been counted.

Voters, angry at joblessness, inequality and rolling blackouts, slashed support for the legacy party. Official results released Sunday evening showed the ANC winning 159 seats in the 400 seat parliament, down from 230 in the previous assembly.

“Did we commit mistakes? Yes, we did. In governance and everywhere else,” said Fikile Mbalula, the party’s secretary general at the firs press briefing the ANC has held since the polls. The party had “nothing to celebrate,” he added.

But the ANC would not bend to pressure from other parties that current President Cyril Ramaphosa, once Mandela’s lead negotiator to end white minority rule, must step down.

“That is a no-go area”, Fikile said.

COSATU, South Africa’s largest trade union group and a major ANC ally – also rallied behind Ramaphosa.

“What’s key is that a coalition be led by the ANC and President Ramaphosa,” a COSATU spokesman said.

South Africa will now enter a new era of coalition politics, said Professor David Everatt, from Johannesburg’s Wits School of Governance.

“It will be a good thing because although the ANC under Mandela and Mbeki started well, it ended under a terrible trough of corruption, state capture,” he said.

Pollsters pointed to corruption, high unemployment and a general failure to do more to improve the lives of poor Black South Africans, as behind the low numbers received by President Cyril Ramaphosa’s party.

So with whom will the ANC partner now? Some suggest a coalition with the Democratic Alliance, A white-led, pro-business party which for years was the official opposition. They came in second with more than 21% of the vote.

Doing better than expected was uMkhonto we Size, or MK, led by former President Jacob Zuma in third place. The far-left Economic Freedom Fighters, led by former ANC youth leader Julius Malema received 9.5%.

Widely free and fair elections

Zuma on Saturday night said his party would reject the results despite doing better than expected with about 14% of the vote, mainly thanks to the former president’s popularity with fellow ethnic Zulus.

The elections were widely declared free and fair, but Zuma’s party made unsubstantiated claims of rigging. MK says it could seek a recount or a revote.

Zuma’s comeback has been the story of this election, and his new party’s success ate into the ANC’s share of the vote. He is bitter at his former party, the ANC, for forcing him to resign in his second term as president in 2018 over corruption scandals.

Still head of the party, ty, Zuma cannot sit in parliament with MK because of a contempt of court conviction.

His brief jailing in 2021 sparked the worst riots in South Africa’s post-apartheid history, with more than 350 people killed.

Next year, Zuma is to face trial over an alleged corrupt arms deal.

The prospect of an ANC tie-up with either the EFF or MK has rattled South Africa’s business and international investors, who would prefer a coalition that brings in the Democratic Alliance.

“For the Democratic Alliance, burying our heads in the sand while South Africa faces its greatest threat since the dawn of democracy is not an option,” he said.

The small Inkatha Freedom Party, a conservative Zulu party with a power base in KwaZulu Natal that won nearly 4% of the vote, was to meet separately on Sunday to discuss its next steps.

Mbalula said the ANC’s leadership would meet on Tuesday for discussions on the way forward. [IDN-InDepthNews]

Photo: South African President Cyril Ramaphosa. Source: Global Informarion Network.

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