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What are the ANC’s options if it should lose Gauteng?

ANALYSIS

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After about 65% of the votes were counted by Friday afternoon, Gauteng remains on the brink for the ANC. 

The ANC’s support slipped below 50% on Friday morning as the counting continued. It stood at 50% as of 1pm.

It is not over yet, however, with the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and the SABC predicting that the ANC would obtain enough to hold onto the province — with a likely 50% of the vote.

In this scenario, it would be easy to form a government for the ANC with insiders saying the party has already begun talking to smaller parties such as the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) to ensure it can govern smoothly

The party remained confident that it will cross the threshold and reclaim the province, with around 700 voting districts outstanding in townships in Johannesburg and Tshwane.

But should it fail to do so, it has two options — form a minority government or enter into a coalition.

It’s support is unlikely to fall massively, it has three options on potential coalition partners, the Democratic Alliance (DA), the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) and the Freedom Front Plus (FF+).

A coalition between the DA and ANC is impossible. A coalition with the EFF is probably what the fledgling party is banking on in order to enter government.

This depends on two things: the extent of the ANC’s losses and its willingness to give in to the EFF’s demands.

ANC Gauteng chairman David Makhura has in the past said that the party would sit in the opposition benches if it lost the province. It is unclear whether this is still the party’s position and such decisions would be taken at a national level.

A coalition with the EFF may mean handing the party key metros such as Tshwane and there is also speculation that the party has its own preference for the position of premier from the ANC ranks — the two names rumoured to be preferred by the party instead of Makhura are Lebogang Maile and potentially Panyanza Lesufi.

This would place the ANC in an awkward position and the party is unlikely to agree to it.

A coalition with the FF+ would also hand the ANC outright power in the province.

But according to the FF+, it has taken a formal party decision not to enter into a formal coalition with the ANC or the EFF. It would however be open to a loose cooperation agreement with the ANC, for instance to vote with it to elect a premier and a speaker on an ad hoc basis.

This would mean that if the ANC’s support falls to around 48% it can form a minority government and still push through key decisions in the legislature without entering a formal coalition agreement with any party.

The ANC has options should its support slide only slightly below the 51% mark, however an unlikely larger slide could place the party at the mercy of the EFF and in a decidedly tricky position. 

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Natasha Marrian
Natasha Marrian
Marrian has built a reputation as an astute political journalist, investigative reporter and commentator. Until recently she led the political team at Business Day where she also produced a widely read column that provided insight into the political spectacle of the week.

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