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ANC weighs coalition as it faces crushing blow in South African election -Dlight News

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The African National Congress was on Saturday poised to suffer a crushing blow in the country’s general election, setting off frantic internal discussions about the possible permutations of a future coalition government. 

With more than 98 per cent of the votes counted the ANC was on 40.2 per cent with the market-oriented Democratic Alliance in second place on 21.7 per cent. 

Jacob Zuma’s uMkhonto weSizwe party, whose formation six months ago upended the electoral mathematics, was on 14.7 per cent, a surprisingly strong tally. 

The ANC is in a “state of disbelief” about the election outcome, according to party insiders. It must now consider how it can continue to govern and whether it can retain Cyril Ramaphosa as leader.

The party’s national executive committee, its main decision making body, will meet on Sunday to discuss what is arguably the movement’s biggest crisis in the past 30 years. 

“This is apocalyptic and even perhaps existential for the ANC,” said Richard Calland, a law professor and political analyst. “It poses the question of what sort of party they want to be in future: do they want to be a party that governs from the centre, and defends the constitution, or do they want to allow themselves to be pulled to the extreme where the populist tail wags the dog?”

“It’s a stunning defeat for the ANC,” said one person close to the party.

“The bad guys will argue that it’s a defeat for Cyril and that we lost because we got rid of [Julius] Malema, Zuma, Ace [Magashule],” the person said, referring to prominent former members who had been driven out. “The other side will argue that it is a defeat because the renewal project has not gone deep enough to regain voter trust.”

Parliament has 14 days to elect a president after the result is declared.

If there are moves to oust Ramaphosa, speculation will turn to who could replace him and what that might mean for the composition of any potential coalition. Analysts said that if Paul Mashatile, ANC deputy president, took over he would be more inclined to do a deal with Zuma’s MK and possibly Malema’s Economic Freedom Fighters, a move likely to unnerve financial markets. 

Other names being mentioned as outside possibilities to succeed Ramaphosa include Gwede Mantashe, the powerful energy minister, and Naledi Pandor, foreign minister.

Susan Booysen, a political analyst and emeritus professor at Wits university, gave Ramaphosa a decent chance of clinging on. “Even if the ANC wants to get rid of Ramaphosa there isn’t a credible alternative leader at this stage,” she said.

A person close to the ANC said: “I don’t think anyone is ready to put their hand up and knife Cyril just yet.”

If Ramaphosa stays, analysts said the chances of a formal or informal alliance with the DA would rise. One possibility being discussed was a government of national unity comprising the ANC and DA, with other smaller parties including the Inkatha Freedom Party also participating.

The ANC could instead set up a minority government with support from the DA on an ad hoc basis. In return, the DA could be granted the position of Speaker of the House, giving it control over the parliamentary process. 

“The potential models are still in deep debate but seem to be settling around two major options,” said one DA insider who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to speak about internal party discussions. 

A supply and confidence model “where the DA would extract certain policy concessions, and take control of the legislature” was one possibility, he said.  

Alternatively the DA could consider an “all-in model of a government of national unity” with the ANC and the IFP in order “to avoid an EFF/MK/ANC national coalition which we know would be devastating for South Africa”.

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