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PoliticsSouth Africa

South Africa election: ANC loses majority for first time

Louis Oelofse
June 1, 2024

The ANC's three-decade dominance of South African politics has ended, and the party is now seeking coalition partners.

A worker removes a campaign banner of the African National Congress (ANC
President Cyril Ramaphosa is hoping parliament will re-elect him for a second term, but his party's election performance means that is not guaranteedImage: James Oatway/REUTERS

The African National Congress, which came to power in 1994 after the end of Apartheid in South Africa, lost its parliamentary majority for the first time, partial results from the general election showed on Saturday.

With 99% of the votes from Wednesday's election counted, the party, once led by Nelson Mandela, secured just over 40%, a far cry from the 57.5% it won in 2019.

The party also lost its majority in two of the nine provinces, while the opposition pro-business Democratic Alliance (DA) retained control of a third.

The independent electoral commission that ran the election said it would formally declare the results by Sunday.

South Africa: Ramaphosa calls for unity after ANC losses

03:22

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ANC to start coalition talks

The ANC's National Chairperson Gwede Mantashe told DW's Dianne Hawker that the party will start talks to form a "working government."

"There must be a semblance of agreeing on some issues, and then you can have a working government," he said.

The DA has 21.83%, while the newly formed uMkhontowe Sizwe party (MK) of former President Jacob Zuma, was third with over 14% of the vote. The far-left Economic Freedom Fighter (EFF) was in fourth place with over 9%.

Based on the partial results, a host of other parties have also secured enough support to be represented in parliament.

Decisive test for Ramaphosa

Lawmakers in parliament elect the South African president after national elections.

The MK party of Zuma, who has turned against the ANC he once led, has already ruled out a coalition with the ANC if incumbent President Cyril Ramaphosa isn't removed as ANC leader and president.

"We are willing to negotiate with the ANC, but not the ANC of Cyril Ramaphosa," MK Party spokesperson Nhlamulo Ndlela said.

South Africa's former president Jacob Zuma was barred from running for parliament, but his newly formed MK party secured third place in the general election Image: Emilio Morenatti/AP Photo/picture alliance

MK's strong performance, especially in Zuma's home province of KwaZulu-Natal, is one of the main reasons the ANC failed to secure a majority.

EFF leader Julius Malema, who was expelled from the ANC in 2013, said it would work with any party willing to agree to the expropriation of land without compensation and the nationalization of the Reserve Bank and the creation of a state-owned bank.

He also said EFF would form a coalition government with anti-racism and anti-imperialism in mind.

"Whoever we partner with must not be a puppet or representation of the West, Imperialist agenda interest in South Africa," he said.

The main opposition party, the Democratic Alliance (DA), had marginally improved its elections results Image: Themba Hadebe/AP Photo/picture alliance

DA leader John Steenhuisen said his party was open to discussions, but he would talk to other members of the Multi-Party Charter (MPC), an alliance of 11 opposition parties first.

The parties of the MPC do not have enough support to form a majority government and while the three major opposition parties would have a combined majority, observers consider such an alliance highly unlikely.

"The election [has] taken place now, we've got to play the hand that the voters have given us so we will look at a variety of options that will exist," Steenhuisen told Reuters.

An ANC-DA coalition "would be a marriage of two drunk people in Las Vegas. It will never work," Gayton McKenzie, the leader of the smaller Patriotic Alliance party said.

Material from the Associated Press was used in this report.