New South African Parliament Set To Meet On Friday Amid Vacant Govt

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The Office of the Chief Justice on Monday said South Africa’s newly elected parliament would convene on Friday as none of the political parties won majority seats to form a new government.

The ruling African National Congress (ANC), which has been in power since the end of apartheid 30 years ago, lost its majority in a May 29 election and is now negotiating with potential governing partners ranging from Marxists to free-marketeers.

The ANC said last week that it favoured forming a broad-based government of national unity.

Some of the smaller parties have rejected one another and it is unclear whether any kind of deal will have been reached by Friday and who will be included.

“It’s completely up in the air,” said Ebrahim Fakir, an analyst at the Electoral Institute for Sustainable Democracy in Africa.

“There’s too many variables. There’s too many things that different parties want,” he said.

The ANC was punished by voters weary of high unemployment and poverty, rampant crime, rolling power cuts and widespread corruption.

The ANC remains the country’s largest party and will control 159 of the 400 seats in the new parliament.

Its nearest rivals are the pro-business, white-led Democratic Alliance (DA), with 87 seats; the populist uMkhonto we Sizwe (MK) led by former President Jacob Zuma, with 58; and the hard-left Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) with 39.

According to the South African Constitution which says that a newly elected parliament must convene within two weeks of election results being announced.

At the first sitting, which will take place at a convention centre in Cape Town, Chief Justice Raymond Zondo will oversee the swearing-in of the newly elected or reelected members of the National Assembly.

He will then preside over the election of the chamber’s speaker, who will in turn oversee the election of the deputy speaker. Zondo will then preside over the election by lawmakers of the country’s president.