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South Africa Ushers in New Era with Ramaphosa's Re-Election and Historic Coalition

Saturday 15 June 2024 - 11:25
South Africa Ushers in New Era with Ramaphosa's Re-Election and Historic Coalition

In a landmark development for South African politics, Cyril Ramaphosa has been re-elected as the country's president following a groundbreaking coalition deal between the governing African National Congress (ANC) and opposition parties. This unprecedented alliance, combining the ANC with the center-right Democratic Alliance (DA) and smaller parties, ushers in a new era of unity government aimed at addressing the nation's pressing challenges.

The National Assembly convened late into the evening for a series of pivotal votes that determined the composition of the new administration. After weeks of speculation and intense negotiations, the ANC, which lost its parliamentary majority for the first time in 30 years during last month's elections, secured a coalition agreement that enabled Ramaphosa to retain the presidency.

In his victory speech, Ramaphosa hailed the historic coalition, acknowledging that voters expected leaders "to act and to work together for the good of everyone in our country." ANC Secretary-General Fikile Mbalula described the coalition deal as a "remarkable step," underscoring the significance of this unprecedented alliance.

The road to this coalition was paved with high political drama. The ANC, which secured 40% of the vote in the recent elections, partnered with the DA, which garnered 22% support. The multi-party deal notably excludes two ANC breakaway parties, which may potentially benefit if the coalition fails to deliver on the economic improvements demanded by voters.

However, opinion polls suggest that many South Africans are hopeful that this grand coalition will succeed in tackling the nation's pressing issues, including high levels of corruption, unemployment, and crime challenges that have eroded support for the ANC in recent years.

Addressing Parliament after his confirmation, Ramaphosa drew parallels to the historic moment in 1994 when Nelson Mandela became the country's first democratically elected president, leading the nation's transition from the oppressive apartheid regime. "We have been here before. We were here in 1994 when we sought to unite our country and to effect reconciliation and we are here now," Ramaphosa said, underscoring the significance of this moment.

The alliance between the center-right DA and the ANC is unprecedented, as the two parties have been rivals for decades. While the ANC led the campaign against the racist apartheid system and won the country's first democratic elections under Mandela, the DA has faced accusations from critics of trying to protect the economic privileges of the country's white minority—a charge the party vehemently denies.

John Steenhuisen, the leader of the DA, acknowledged the historic nature of the moment, stating, "Today is a historic day for our country, and I think it is the start of a new chapter."

As the National Assembly swore in an ANC speaker and a DA deputy speaker, the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) party leader, Julius Malema, expressed reservations about the coalition, criticizing it as a "marriage of convenience" aimed at consolidating "white monopoly power over the economy and the means of production in South Africa."

With this unprecedented coalition in place, all eyes are now on Ramaphosa as he navigates the intricate process of allocating cabinet positions, which will include members from the opposition DA. The success of this grand alliance will be closely watched, both within South Africa and internationally, as the nation embarks on a new chapter of unity and cooperation to tackle its long-standing socio-economic challenges.

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