South Africa’s President Urges Unity As ANC Loses Majority In Parliament

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President Cyril Ramaphosa has called on political parties in South Africa to work together for the good of the country.

The call by Ramaphosa is coming on the heels of final results from last week’s election which confirmed his African National Congress had lost its majority for the first time.

The result, announced on Sunday, is the worst election showing for the ANC – Africa’s oldest liberation movement, once led by Nelson Mandela – since it came to power 30 years ago, ending white minority rule.

Voters, angry at joblessness, inequality and rolling blackouts, slashed support for the ANC to 40.2%, down from 57.5% in the previous 2019 parliamentary vote.

Official results showed the ANC winning 159 seats in the 400-seat National Assembly, down from 230 previously.

The result means that the ANC must now share power, likely with a major political rival, in order to keep it – an unprecedented prospect in South Africa’s post-apartheid history.

“South Africans expect the parties for which they have voted to find common ground, overcome their differences and act together for the good of everyone. That’s what South Africans have said,” Ramaphosa said after the electoral commission announced the final results.

He called the election a “victory for our democracy.”

Political parties now have two weeks to work out a deal before the new parliament sits to choose a president, who would likely still hail from the ANC since it remains the biggest force.

“This is the time for all of us to put South Africa first,” Ramaphosa said.

ANC officials earlier on Sunday said the party was humbled by the result and had “nothing to celebrate” but stood by Ramaphosa, once Mandela’s lead negotiator to end apartheid, and said they would not bend to pressure for him to step down.

The poor showing has fuelled speculation that Ramaphosa’s days might be numbered, either due to the demands of a prospective coalition partner or as a result of an internal leadership challenge.

“That is a no-go area,” Fikile Mbalula, the ANC’s secretary general, told a press briefing, the party’s first since the polls.

“Did we commit mistakes? Yes, we did. In governance and everywhere else,” he said, adding that the ANC was now committed to forming a government “that is stable and that is able to govern effectively”.

The ANC’s leadership will meet on Tuesday to plot the path forward.