LISTEN: The difference between a coalition and a Government of National Unity

LISTEN: The difference between a coalition and a Government of National Unity

South Africans now know what to expect in the formation of the country's seventh administration after the confirmation that political parties are discussing forming a Government of National Unity (GNU). 

South African Flag in the wind
Oleksii Liskonih / iStock

African National Congress (ANC) President Cyril Ramaphosa made the announcement last night, saying that the ANC's National Executive Council (NEC) decided on a Government of National Unity as the best option to move the country forward after the 29 May elections.

Ramaphosa addressed the nation following an all-day long meeting of the ANC's National Executive Committee (NEC) in Boksburg.

The ANC has already met with representatives from the IFP, the EFF, the DA, the NFP, and the Patriotic Alliance.

While most analysts have been focusing on possible coalition agreements with the DA, EFF and the umKhonto weSizwe Party (MK Party), the ANC says the door remains open to any political parties represented in Parliament, to join the talks. 

University of Johannesburg, Centre for Africa diplomacy and leadership, Researcher Dr Oscar van Heerden says there is a difference in coalition government and the government of national unity as this form of government changes the perimeters of negotiations.

Van Heerden adds if the ANC decided to enter into a coalition with only the DA in terms of the grand coalition that would have elevated the DA.

Ramaphosa added that the ANC acknowledged that we are at a moment of fundamental consequence in the history of South Africa. 

He said what the country now needs, is extraordinary leadership and courage to plot a way forward.

"We must act with speed to safeguard national unity, peace, stability, inclusive economic growth, non-racialism and non-sexism.

"We will ensure the continuation of a progressive agenda of social and economic transformation in our country.

"We have therefore agreed that we will invite political parties to form a Government of National Unity as the best option to move our country forward," adds Ramaphosa.

Van Heerden says the ANC has been trying to contact the MK Party but to no avail.

In a statement released on Thursday, the MK Party confirmed that the ANC has engaged the party's leaders in discussions regarding the coalition discussions. 

"A meeting is expected to take place soon, where the MK Party will hear the views presented with an open mind, while firmly prioritizing the inspirations and aspirations of the South African majority and blacks in particular", the statement read.

"We commit and reaffirm to engage only in the future of South Africa, which prioritizes the interests of the people, especially the black majority who are poor, unemployed, homeless, and landless, against the interests of white monopoly capital and markets. 

"Any coalition has to focus on eradicating the systems that preserve and support the prolonged political subjugation and economic enslavement of our people."

Van Heerden says failure to finalise the GNU will mean that South Africans may have to vote again. 

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