/ 6 June 2024

ANC has narrowed its options to forming a government of national unity, says Fikile Mbalula

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ANC secretary general Fikile Mbalula. (Photo by Per-Anders Pettersson/Getty Images)

ANC secretary general Fikile Mbalula said on Thursday the party had narrowed its options to a government of national unity instead of a coalition government.

The ANC has this week been speaking to political parties in a bid to form a government after it failed to win last week’s elections with an outright majority, the first time since 1994.

Speaking to the media outside Birchwood Hotel in Boksburg where the party’s national executive committee (NEC) is meeting, Mbalula said the uMkhonto weSizwe (MK) party led by Jacob Zuma has been the only party that has been difficult to speak to. 

“It has been very difficult to try and reach out and we drew a blank. It will depend on this meeting whether we will still meet them but, like we said, we are open to talking to everybody,” he said.

“It’s very difficult to talk to people there because when you talk to them, they tell you that they are still waiting for uBaba [Zuma] and you can’t find uBaba, but we are open to speaking to the MK party.”

He said the ANC has resolved to look at different models for governing rather than looking at certain parties.

There was a perception that there had been an agreement to work with the Democratic Alliance (DA), but that was not the case, Mbalula said. 

The ANC had certain scenarios, and they had narrowed down those down to a government of national unity (GNU) 

Mbalula said negotiations were informed by the readiness to compromise and to accept the goodwill of the people.

“It is not just a question of talking about a coalition without having a model, it is a question of saying, do we have a model in this country through a national dialogue that will take South Africa forward preserving and safeguarding the interest of political parties in a particular way, without a political demise and identity of political parties?” 

“Talks about talks continue and we are now moving to a stage, having received a mandate from the NEC, to hold hard negotiations where we look at the options including the technicalities. The GNU that we talk about might be different from 1994, so the devil is in the details. The technical team in terms of negotiating will receive a broad mandate.” 

Sources this week told the Mail & Guardian that President Cyril Ramaphosa and his closest allies in the ANC believed that the only route to stability was through a working arrangement with the DA.

But there is a rebellion in the governing party over the president’s choice to go with the DA instead of the EFF or the MK party.

Before the NEC meeting on Thursday, a group of ANC protesters led by Thuthuzile Zuma said the DA was not an option the ANC should consider.

Mbalula said the protest was “unfortunate” and misplaced because this was a time for sober minds. 

“There has not been any position and the position will be derived from the NEC, and the president will pronounce on that at the end.” 

The party has taken the unusual step of allowing the media to attend the closing address by Ramaphosa, at which its decision will be made public.