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South Africa heads for coalition as ANC support slips By Reuters

By Tannur Anders, Bhargav Acharya and Nqobile Dludla

MIDRAND, South Africa (Reuters) – South African parties prepared for coalition talks on Friday as the ruling African National Congress (ANC) looked set to fall short of a majority for the first time in 30 years of democracy.

While the late Nelson Mandela’s party appeared to remain the biggest political force after Wednesday’s election, voters appeared to have punished the former liberation movement for years of economic decline that left many in poverty.

With results from almost 70% of polling stations, the ANC had 41.8% of the vote, a steep drop from the 57.5% it secured in the last national election in 2019.

The pro-business Democratic Alliance (DA) was in second place with 22.6%. uMkhonto we Sizwe (MK), a new party led by former president Jacob Zuma, was at 12.2% and eating into ANC support, particularly in Zuma’s home province of KwaZulu-Natal.

MK overtook the Marxist Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), currently the third largest party in parliament, which had 9.5%.

The political parties’ share of the vote will determine the number of seats they get in the National Assembly, which then elects the next president.

That could still be the ANC leader, incumbent President Cyril Ramaphosa. However, an embarrassing showing at the polls risks fueling a leadership challenge — but ANC deputy secretary-general Nomvula Mokonyane said she would not resign.

“No one will resign… Collectively, all of us, we are still confident that he (Ramaphosa) must remain ANC president,” she told reporters at the results centre.

“The ANC leadership will meet, the ANC structures will be consulted. We are not talking to anyone for now,” she said.

Analysts said that at this stage of the vote count, the ANC could not return to win a parliamentary majority, but could end up with more than 42% of the vote.

“The real question is 42 percent or 44 percent,” Reza Omar, director of strategic research at Citizen Surveys, told Reuters.

“Limpopo, Eastern Cape and North West are ANC strongholds and some votes still need to be counted from these provinces.”

The ANC has won all previous national elections since the historic 1994 vote that ended white minority rule, but in the past decade South Africans have seen the economy stagnate, unemployment and poverty rise and infrastructure collapse, leading to regular blackouts.

“THE DOOMSDAY COALITION”

Speculation was intense as to which party or parties the ANC might approach to form a coalition and remain in government, or what other negotiations might take place behind closed doors.

DA leader John Steenhuisen said the calls would begin at the weekend and his first move would be to meet other members of the Multiparty Charter (MPC), an alliance of 11 opposition parties that was formed before the election, to to see if it could be. extended.

“The election (has) taken place now, we have to play the hand that the voters have dealt us, so we will look at a variety of options that will be there,” he told Reuters.

There was no clear path for MPC member parties to collectively secure more than 50% of the vote share and seats in parliament, unless one of the EFF or MK enlisted, which seemed highly unlikely. The DA, the largest party in the MPC, denounced those parties as extremist and said an alliance between them and the ANC would be a “coalition of the apocalypse”.

Ahead of the election, Steenhuisen did not rule out a partnership with the ANC to block such a coalition, although the DA has consistently denounced the ANC and said it wants to oust it from power.

Meanwhile, the MP said he could work with the ANC, but not if Ramaphosa remains its leader.

“Who do we engage with? Patriotic organizations that want to bring about change. They are progressives…not Cyril Ramaphosa’s ANC.

“It doesn’t mean we won’t engage with the ANC, but not Cyril Ramaphosa’s ANC,” MK spokesman Nhlamulo Ndhlela told Reuters.

The uncertainty weighed on the government bond market, with prices of the country’s main internationally traded bonds falling as much as 1.3 cents against the US dollar. The declines were the third in a row and left bonds at their lowest level in nearly a month.

© Reuters.  Midrand, South Africa, May 30, 2024. REUTERS/Alet Pretorius

Investors and the business community have expressed concern over the prospect of the ANC entering into a coalition with the EFF, which is calling for the confiscation of white-owned farms and the nationalization of mines and banks, or Zuma’s MP, who is also talking about land confiscation. .

By law, the election commission has seven days to release full provisional results, but election officials said they plan to make an announcement on Sunday.