ANC loses majority, calls for South African parties to overcome differences and form coalition

President Cyril Ramaphosa has called for South Africa’s political parties to overcome their differences and find “common ground” to form the country’s first national coalition government.

His comments came in a speech on June 2, straight after the final election results confirmed that no party had won a majority in the May 29 vote.

Unprecedented coalition talks were set to start to find a way forward for Africa’s most industrialized economy.

The African National Congress received 40 percent, the largest share, of the ballots cast in last week’s election.

But lacking a majority, it will need to reach a coalition deal with another party or parties to remain in power.

Whether Ramaphosa secures a second term of office is also at stake, because South Africa’s president is elected by the parliament.

Ramaphosa said: “Our people have spoken. We have heard the voices of our people and we must respect their choices and their wishes. The people of South Africa expect their leaders to work together to meet their needs. This is a time for all of us to put South Africa first.”

The ANC was the party of Nelson Mandela and freed South Africa from the apartheid system of white minority rule in 1994.

It has governed with a comfortable majority until now, but last week’s election saw an unprecedented slump in its support.

The ANC is largely seen to have failed to deal with South Africa’s widespread poverty, extremely high unemployment levels and problems in delivering basic government services to many of the country’s 62 million people.

Amid many coalition options, the ANC could join with former president Jacob Zuma’s new uMkhonto we Sizwe party and the Economic Freedom Fighters, whose policies are a mixture of right-wing and left-wing populism.

Both have pledged to nationalize parts of South Africa’s economy, including its gold and platinum mines, which are among the world’s biggest producers in their respective sectors.

Morning Star (Britain)

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