‘We have a deal’ – GNU is unveiled

DA’s John Steenhuisen and ANC president Cyril Ramaphosa share a light moment after the rival parties announced that they would be working together to run South Africa as part of a government of national unity. Picture: Baba Jiyane/GCIS

DA’s John Steenhuisen and ANC president Cyril Ramaphosa share a light moment after the rival parties announced that they would be working together to run South Africa as part of a government of national unity. Picture: Baba Jiyane/GCIS

Published Jun 15, 2024


Cape Town - “We have a deal!” These were the words of Gayton McKenzie from the Patriotic Alliance signalling that the ANC struck a deal with them, the DA and the IFP to form a government of national unity (GNU).

Both DA leader John Steenhuisen and ANC secretary-general Fikile Mbalula later confirmed the deal.

The agreement, opened with a statement of intent, was evident when the DA voted with the ANC to elect Thoko Didiza as National Assembly (NA) Speaker.

Later the ANC voted for the DA's candidate, Annelie Lotriet, as Deputy Speaker.

In a sitting that went late into the night, IFP leader Velenkosini Fiki Hlabisa nominated Cyril Ramaphosa as candidate for president, seconded by the ANC.

This was a clear indication that the GNU is in full swing.

Although EFF leader Julius Malema was also voted for as a candidate for president, it was an almost foregone conclusion that Ramaphosa would continue with a second term.

Mbulula, speaking on the sidelines of the first sitting of the NA, said the party's National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting had decided on a GNU to begin the process of forming a government.

“The ANC's negotiations team has continued engagement with political parties, and we received seats in the seventh Parliament. The NEC has considered a number of options and resolved to establish a government of national unity,” said Mbalula.

He said the ANC had met with all political parties except ActionSA and United Africans Transformation.

“We can confirm that the majority of parties have agreed on the establishment of a government of national unity. This will include co-operation in both the executive and legislative branches.

The GNU parties are expected to adopt a statement of intent that outlines foundational principles and a basic minimum programme of priorities and modalities,” said Mbalula.

He said this would be a public document to ensure accountability and foster trust between the electorate and the political parties that formed the GNU.

“In addition, the parties have made a commitment to an all-inclusive national dialogue process.

“With parties from civil society, labour, business, and other sectors to discuss critical challenges facing the nation, the national dialogue process will seek to develop a national social compact that enables the country to meet the aspirations of the National Development Plan,” said Mbalula.

The ANC had circulated the statement of intent document and was giving parties the space to engage with it.

“The ANC will sign an agreement with every political party that agrees to form the GNU. We have started signing with the DA,” said Mbalula.

Steenhuisen said his party would work with the ANC and Ramaphosa, just as they would join hands with any person in the political spectrum who was genuinely committed to a clean, corruption-free, transparent government that delivered to the people and “focused like a laser beam” on getting rid of poverty, fighting unemployment, and making sure South Africans had electricity in their homes and in the economy.

Steenhuisen said: “We are on a trajectory that is moving upwards, not downwards. We look forward to taking a mature role in helping to build the future of South Africa. This is a new chapter for South Africa.

“Never in our lifetime again will we see a majority party in government. The era of coalitions is upon us, and we have had to adapt to that environment and adapt to it quickly because it is and will be the new reality.

“We go into this with our eyes wide open. We go into this with an open hand and an open commitment to working with President Ramaphosa, the ANC, with Velenkosini Fiki Hlabisa and the IFP, and with the other parties that may or may not join at some stage, to put our shoulder to the wheel now and move our country forward in the right direction together.”

Political parties who have organised themselves under the banner of the Progressive Caucus held a media briefing 30 minutes before the first sitting of the NA. They said the ANC didn't consult them properly on the processes of forming the GNU.

These parties, which include the Al Jama-ah, African Transformation Movement (ATM), EFF, PAC, United Africans Transformation and United Democratic Movement, said the ANC created an impression among citizens that it wanted all parties involved in GNU talks.

But, said ATM leader Vuyolwethu Zungula, “What they are doing practically is having a coalition with their own parties, which they've included in the deals they've already concluded.

“During this week, Tony Leon of the DA did allude to the fact that the discussions with the ANC are in the final stages.

“Whereas with the parties that are at this table, they are not even in the final stages because they were not included in terms of bringing those documents that are basically the guidelines as to what are the modalities of the GNU.

“So we thought, as these parties, let us come speak to the nation and advise the nation that the ANC is misleading when saying it is a GNU, while it is not, because if all parties had been equally consulted, there would have been equal understanding among all of the parties.”

Zungula said what they were seeing now was a coalition with certain parties, but under the guise of a GNU, and the other parties that did not agree with some of the programme or some of the suggestions being excluded.

PAC president Mzwanele Nyhontso released a statement saying that they had expressed willingness to engage further with the ANC on the GNU, and said that they met with the ANC on its invitation.

“The PAC delegation expressed the willingness to engage further, emphasising that our support is contingent upon the modalities being worked out and further discussion by our NEC.”

However, the PAC changed its tune on Friday, saying that it now supported the Progressive Caucus.

“What we are saying is that we have not been properly consulted, and we agree with the Progressive Caucus that there needs to be a broader consultation process that does not favour one party,” said Nyhontso.