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South Africa: Political Parties Gear Up For Coalition As Ruling ANC Likely To Lose Majority Mark

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The ruling African National Congress (ANC) appeared destined to just miss a majority in this week’s election, marking the first time in 30 years of democracy that South African political parties prepared for coalition negotiations on Friday.

The voters seem to have punished the erstwhile liberation movement for years of decline, even though it appeared that the late Nelson Mandela’s party would continue to be the largest political force.

The late Nelson Mandela’s party received 42.1% of the vote with results from 54.9% of polling places, a sharp decline from the 57.5% of votes it received in the most recent national election in 2019.

When all the results are in, the ANC is expected to receive 40.5%, according to projections made by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research in South Africa.

At 23.7%, the Democratic Alliance (DA), pro-business group, is currently in second position. Former president Jacob Zuma’s new party, uMkhonto we Sizwe (MK), was gaining ground on the ANC with 10.8% of the vote, especially in KwaZulu-Natal, the region where Zuma was born.

With 9.6% of the vote, MK had surpassed the radical Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), who were the third-largest party in parliament at the time.

Since the historic 1994 referendum that overthrew white minority rule, the African National Congress (ANC) has won every prior national election. However, in the past ten years, South Africans have witnessed the economy stagnate, unemployment and poverty rise, and infrastructure deteriorate, resulting in frequent power outages.

Electoral authorities have stated they intend to make an announcement on Sunday, although the electoral commission is legally required to provide complete provisional results within seven days. The number of seats that political parties receive in the National Assembly, which subsequently chooses the next president, is determined by their percentage of the vote.

That might still be President Cyril Ramaphosa, the head of the ANC. But a dismal performance in the polls might encourage a challenge to the leadership.

According to ANC Chair Gwede Mantashe, the party was still aiming for a majority on Thursday. “For us, a coalition is an outcome, not our strategy. When it happens, we’ll handle the fallout,” he stated.

Concerns about the ANC potentially forming a coalition with the EFF, which wants to seize land owned by white people and nationalise banks and mines, or with Zuma’s MK, which also advocates for land confiscation, have been expressed by investors and the business community.

Even though the DA’s head, John Steenhuisen, has stated that the party aims to overthrow the ruling party, he has not ruled out working with the ANC to prevent what he has dubbed a “doomsday coalition” that would put the EFF or MK in power.

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