Ramaphosa Refuses to Resign as ANC Leader Despite Historic Electoral Loss
Africa Politics

Ramaphosa Refuses to Resign as ANC Leader Despite Historic Electoral Loss

Despite leading the ANC to its worst electoral performance in 30 years, President Cyril Ramaphosa has no intention of resigning as the party’s leader, the Mail & Guardian has learned. Sources close to Ramaphosa reveal that he believes South Africa needs political maturity to provide stable governance following a surprising election outcome that saw his predecessor Jacob Zuma’s uMkhonto weSizwe (MK) party rise to become the third-largest in the country.

The Stakes: Stability Over Resignation

Although deeply disappointed by the ANC’s poor performance, barely polling 40 percent, Ramaphosa maintains that “much is at stake.” He and his allies within the ANC view a partnership with the Democratic Alliance (DA) as essential for achieving the stability South Africa desperately needs.

Coalition Dynamics: ANC, DA, and EFF

While the ANC’s Gauteng leadership and younger members of the national executive committee have favored a coalition with the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), this approach has lost traction due to the EFF’s disappointing vote share. Instead, high-ranking ANC sources are advocating for a centrist government formed through an alliance with the DA, rejecting any concessions to Zuma’s MK party.

In-Principle Agreement: Details to be Ironed Out

Several sources suggest an in-principle agreement between the ANC and the DA is already in place, with discussions ongoing about the specifics of the partnership. Two primary options are under consideration:

  1. Full-Blown Coalition: The DA would become the junior partner in a comprehensive coalition government.
  2. Structured Cooperation: The DA would agree to cooperate on essential government functions, such as electing the president in the National Assembly and passing the national budget, while securing key parliamentary positions to hold the ANC executive accountable. This arrangement would likely include demands for greater devolution of powers to provinces.

Internal Divisions and Rebellion

Ramaphosa’s coalition strategy has sparked a rebellion within the ANC, particularly in the Eastern Cape, a province crucial to his rise to the ANC presidency. Some provincial executive committee (PEC) members support Ramaphosa’s pragmatic approach, while others fear it will alienate the ANC’s base—the black working class in townships and rural areas—and benefit the EFF and MK.

DA’s Dilemma: Ideological Divides

The DA faces its own existential dilemma. While some leaders, including federal executive chair Helen Zille, favor a narrowly-structured pact, others doubt this will effectively check the ANC’s excesses. Calls for a conventional coalition with the ANC are also coming from within DA constituencies.

Upcoming Decisions

Both parties are set to make critical decisions in the coming days. The DA’s federal executive will meet on Sunday to flesh out its strategy, while the ANC’s top seven will seek clarity on their position on Saturday, followed by concurrence from the National Executive Committee to pave the way for formal talks.

EFF’s Position

EFF president Julius Malema has stated that his party will not demand Ramaphosa’s removal as a pre-condition for a coalition with the ANC, indicating a willingness to work with either the ANC or MK at the provincial or national level.

As South Africa’s political landscape shifts, the ANC and DA are navigating complex negotiations to form a stable government. With Ramaphosa firmly at the helm, despite the historic electoral loss, the coming weeks will be crucial in determining the country’s political future.

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