GNU talks hit yet another deadlock as ANC’s revised Cabinet offer riles DA

From left: DA leader John Steenhuisen. (Photo: Gallo Images / Darren Stewart) | President Cyril Ramaphosa. (Photo: Leila Dougan)

In the latest development in South Africa’s political landscape, the ANC and the DA have yet to reconcile their differences over Cabinet positions in the emerging government of national unity.

The DA has called a special Federal Executive meeting for this afternoon (Thursday) to deliberate on the latest developments involving the government of national unity (GNU). 

This comes as the ANC and the DA have yet to reconcile their differences over Cabinet positions in the emerging GNU. The ANC’s recent revision of its initial offer has caused significant setbacks in the ongoing discussions.

The DA, had upheld its part of the initial agreement by supporting Cyril Ramaphosa’s election as President and backing Thoko Didiza as Speaker of the National Assembly. However, according to sources, the ANC’s internal pushback has led to a revision of its offer to the DA, straining the negotiations.

According to sources within the ANC, the party faced significant resistance from its internal factions, prompting a reevaluation of the proposed Cabinet roles offered to the DA. The eight other GNU parties have temporarily withdrawn from the discussions to allow the ANC and DA to resolve their disagreements.

The UDM’s Bantu Holomisa told Daily Maverick they had heard that the DA was threatening to pull out of the negotiations if the ANC stuck to its revised offer. Holomisa said the revised offer does not include trade, industry and competition departments, which does not sit well with the DA.

“The ANC should have Plan B if the DA pulls out,” he said. “Now it looks like they had a private deal before the discussions of the GNU. We are waiting for them to come back to us and it must be noted that GNU is not yet established, it’s only a statement of intent.” 

Tensions with the DA

The South African Communist Party (SACP), an ANC alliance partner, accused the DA on Wednesday of trying to overshadow the ANC. This came after a leaked letter from Helen Zille, the DA’s Federal Council chairperson, was made public. In the letter, Zille requested that DA deputy ministers be appointed in all DA-led ministries, and demanded a say in the appointment of directors-general in these ministries.

Negotiations hit a critical point on Wednesday evening when the ANC proposed a new deal involving “lesser portfolios”, which had not been previously considered. This change followed the DA’s readiness to accept seven ministers and seven deputy ministers, and several key departments. 

Sources in both the ANC and DA said the ANC’s revised stance suggested that the DA would not receive multiple significant departments within the economic cluster, leading to a deadlock.

Internal reactions and next steps

The DA’s negotiating team, empowered to make decisions, is expected to meet this afternoon with the party’s Federal Executive to deliberate on the ANC’s revised offer. DA insiders expressed dissatisfaction with the new terms, accusing the ANC of negotiating in bad faith.

The ANC has already taken steps to brief its members. Secretary-general Fikile Mbalula has called for extraordinary regional meetings over the weekend to inform ANC structures about the NEC’s decisions and the progress of GNU negotiations.

This is contained in a letter leaked to the media. 

Courting other alliances

Meanwhile, the ANC continues to engage with the uMkhonto Wesizwe party and the EFF. However, a deal with the EFF appears unlikely, as evidenced by leader Julius Malema’s recent social media post in which he disparaged Mbalula by referring to him as Nelson Ramodike, a derogatory comparison to a former apartheid-era figure.

DA national spokesperson Solly Malatsi declined to comment on the latest developments but said the party remains committed to the statement of intent to set up a GNU. 

“The purpose of our negotiations now is to give expression to that statement so that we are able to make a positive impact on the lives of South Africans. We obviously cannot enter a government if we do not have the means to effect positive change. We are hopeful that we can reach a satisfactory agreement with the ANC.”

Impact on Parliament

The delay in finalising the Cabinet has already started to affect the operational functions of Parliament. Masibulele Xaso, secretary to the National Assembly, highlighted the uncertainty facing members of Parliament, who are unsure whether they will remain in their parliamentary roles or be appointed to ministerial positions.

As Parliament begins to set up its structures and committees following the establishment of the seventh Parliament two weeks ago, the unresolved Cabinet positions continue to cast a shadow over the legislative body’s proceedings.

Stay informed with The Namibian – your source for credible journalism. Get in-depth reporting and opinions for only N$85 a month. Invest in journalism, invest in democracy –
Subscribe Now!

Latest News