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South Africa to form multi-party coalition government in historic ‘new chapter,’ DA party says

<i>Chris McGrath/Getty Images via CNN Newsource</i><br/>The ANC
Chris McGrath/Getty Images via CNN Newsource

By Caitlin Danaher, CNN

(CNN) — The African National Congress and its staunchest adversary, the White-led, Democratic Alliance, forged an unprecedented alliance Friday, agreeing to collaborate in South Africa’s new government of national unity, a stunning turn of events that ends 30 years of ANC political dominance.

“After two weeks of thorough negotiations that only concluded after today’s sitting of Parliament had already started, the DA has reached agreement on the statement of intent for the formation of a Government of National Unity (GNU),” the DA’s leader John Steenhuisen said in a statement in Cape Town on Friday.

The respective parties involved include the ANC, the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) and the DA, Steenhuisen outlined in his statement.

“Today, the 14th of June 2024 will go down in the annals of history as the start of a new chapter for our beloved country,” Steenhuisen said.

The DA, a broadly centrist and pro-business party, is seen as the official opposition to the ANC, and has been heavily critical of the ANC for years.

“It is difficult to overstate just how significant this moment is for the Democratic Alliance,” Steenhuisen said, adding that the party will “govern the Republic of South Africa in a spirit of unity and collaboration.”

“Thanks to the 3.5 million people who voted for us, the DA will no longer only be an opposition party at a national level. Instead, the DA now becomes the second biggest party inside a multi-party national government,” the DA leader added.

No party managed to win an outright majority in South Africa’s election last month. Support for the ANC dropped to 40.18%, a huge slump from the 57.5% it received in the last election in 2019. The DA party received 21.8% of the vote.

Former President Jacob Zuma’s newly-formed uMkhonto weSizwe Party (MK) had nearly 14.59% of the vote. Another ANC splinter party – the far-left Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) – had nearly 10%, with results at 9.52%

The ANC’s Secretary General Fikile Mbalula said on Thursday the party had reached a “breakthrough” with political parties in coalition negotiations during a press conference on Thursday in Cape Town.

The announcement comes as the newly elected parliament was convening for the first time and lawmakers were in the process of being sworn in.

“Today marks the beginning of a new era where we put our differences aside and unite for the betterment of all South Africans,” wrote Sihle Zikalala, of the ANC’s governing body, in a post on X.

Cyril Ramaphosa, the ANC leader, will remain the country’s president under the deal, according to a report on the TimesLive news website.

South Africa’s rand currency was trading up about 0.3% against the dollar, helped by reports by the SABC and other local media of a deal including the ANC and DA, which has been the preferred option in the eyes of markets and investors, according to Reuters.

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