South Africa’s ANC loses majority, seeks coalition

South Africa’s ruling African National Congress (ANC) is poised to lose its absolute majority for the first time in three decades, signaling a major shift in the nation’s political landscape.

With over 98% of the votes from Wednesday’s election counted, the ANC, led by President Cyril Ramaphosa, garnered only 40.15% of the vote, a steep decline from the 57.5% it secured in 2019.

This historic moment ends the ANC’s unbroken reign since 1994 when Nelson Mandela became president, ushering South Africa into democracy.

ANC deputy secretary general Nomvula Mokonyane stated on Friday that the party was already in discussions with potential allies, emphasizing that any coalition must be based on principles rather than desperation.

According to the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC), the centre-right Democratic Alliance (DA) holds second place with 21.71%, a slight increase from 2019. Surprisingly, former president Jacob Zuma’s newly formed uMkhonto weSizwe (MK) party secured third place with 12.6%, while the radical leftist Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) came in fourth with 9.4%.

The IEC is expected to announce the final results on Sunday, but with the outcome clear, attention has shifted to potential coalition formations. President Ramaphosa faces a tough decision: seek allies on his right with the DA, despite their opposing economic policies, or align with more ideologically similar but volatile leftist groups like the EFF or MK.

Mandela’s grandson, Mandla Mandela, highlighted the challenge of partnering with the DA due to differing ideals, suggesting the EFF or MK might be more compatible, though this could face resistance within the ANC.

Analyst Susan Booysen noted the EFF’s unpredictability and the deep rift between Ramaphosa and Zuma as significant hurdles.

MK spokesman Nhlamulo Ndhlela indicated willingness to engage with the ANC, but not under Ramaphosa’s leadership, emphasizing the need for constitutional amendments and a pardon for Zuma, who faces legal ineligibility.

However, Mokonyane dismissed concerns about Ramaphosa’s leadership, underscoring the ANC’s collective approach to elections.

Despite its recent struggles, the ANC remains valued for its role in ending apartheid and implementing policies that have lifted many black families out of poverty. However, decades of dominance have been marred by corruption scandals, economic stagnation, and rising crime and unemployment.

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