/ 23 June 2024

Ten parties have now signed on to unity government, but stalemate remains over cabinet

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Second term: President Cyril Ramaphosa has been re-elected as president. (Photo by WIKUS DE WET / AFP)

Three more parties have joined the government of national unity (GNU) since Friday, bringing to 10 the total number of political organisations that have signed up for the pact necessitated by the ANC losing its outright majority in last month’s general elections.

In a statement on Saturday night, the ANC said discussions among the parties on the formation of the executive were underway, and President Cyril Ramaphosa would announce appointments “in the coming days”.

This comes amid a stalemate between the ANC and the Democratic Alliance over the allocation of cabinet posts in the unity government. The joining of more parties could arguably blunt the bargaining power that the DA has as it pushes for more posts.

In its statement, the ANC confirmed that the United Democratic Movement (UDM) and Rise Mzansi had on Friday signed up to the statement of intent it had proposed to all parties that garnered enough votes for seats in parliament in the 29 May national and provincial elections. Al Jama-ah came on board on Saturday.

“Following two weeks of intense engagements, 10 of the eighteen parties with seats in the National Assembly have signed the GNU statement of intent, indicating their willingness to cooperate to put the people of South Africa first,” the ANC said.

“The first phase of parties to join the GNU initiative has therefore been concluded. The parties constituting the GNU together secured over 70% of the vote in the 2024 elections, ensuring broad representativity and a strong mandate to govern.”

It said any further parties wishing to join the unity government would be subject to clause 24 of the statement of intent which states that their joining would be discussed and agreed among the existing organisations.

Rise Mzansi said it had joined the pact to honour the wishes of South African voters “to be represented by new leaders who are capable, caring and ethical leaders”.

As of Sunday, there appeared to be no breakthrough in the standoff between the ANC and DA on who should be appointed to cabinet.

The DA argues that, according to clause 16 of the statement of intent, the government should “broadly take into account the number of seats parties have in the National Assembly”. This, according to DA negotiators, means the party should get “roughly 30%” of portfolios in the cabinet.

The ANC, on the other hand, insists that appointing the cabinet is the president’s prerogative.

“He will consult, as he always does with members of the ANC. This time he will consult with the other parties in the government of national unity. But there is no quota, absolutely not,” a senior ANC member close to negotiations told the Mail & Guardian last week.