South Africa’s ‘humiliated’ African National Congress supports Cyril Ramaphosa

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South Africa’s ruling African National Congress admitted it had been “humiliated” by its worst general election performance since the first post-apartheid vote 30 years ago, but would not be “bullied” into removing President Cyril Ramaphosa.

Although the election result has not been formally declared, with all votes counted, the ANC had won only 40.2 percent, a result that, according to a senior party member, had sent “shock waves” throughout. the organization.

The centrist Democratic Alliance came in second with 22 percent. But the big winner was the uMkhonto weSizwe (MK) party, launched six months ago by former president Jacob Zuma, which reached 14.6 percent of the vote.

Zuma, who was declared ineligible to stand for parliament due to a previous criminal conviction for contempt of court, has said MK would be willing to form a coalition with the ANC, but only if he abandoned Ramaphosa, with whom he has a personal relationship. vendetta.

The ANC, whose main decision-making body, the National Executive Committee, will meet on Tuesday to conduct a post-mortem of its poor performance and discuss coalition options, was determined this would not happen.

“Ramaphosa is the president of the ANC,” Fikile Mbalula, its secretary-general, said at a news conference on Sunday. “If you come to us with a demand that Ramaphosa must resign as president, that is not going to happen.”

Of the coalition talks, he said: “We will not be intimidated. . . “We will get involved with everyone.”

Analysts say Ramaphosa is under intense pressure after his party suffered a worse-than-expected drop of 17 percentage points, from the 57.5 percent achieved in the 2019 election. This represented “a seismic shift in politics,” said law professor Richard Calland.

One party member told the Financial Times that the ANC needed to rebuild, which would be a “culture shock for many”. But he also said that “that talk of Cyril falling on his sword is nonsense.”

The sudden elevation of the MK party to the national stage, based on a radical platform of scrapping the country’s constitution created after the end of apartheid and nationalizing mines and banks, has rattled investment markets.

Economists said the rand, which fell more than 2 per cent after the election to R18.79 per dollar, was set for a tough start to the week.

Despite his party’s strong results, Zuma demanded a recount citing irregularities and threatened “trouble” if the Electoral Commission declared the final results as planned.

Zuma, who was president from 2009 to 2018 during a period when state assets were looted, said that would be a “provocation” to his party and 25 others who have also raised objections. Most independent analysts consider any irregularities to be minor. “I hope whoever is responsible listens to us. Don’t cause problems when there aren’t any,” Zuma said.

Many commentators viewed this as ominous, given the unrest that broke out in South Africa in 2021 after he was jailed after refusing to take part in a commission of inquiry into the corruption that raged under his presidency.

Mosotho Moepya, chairman of the electoral commission, told media that the results were not compromised and were audited.

Herman Mashaba, leader of the ActionSA party, which won 1.2 percent of the vote, said: “After what happened in July 2021, after his imprisonment, using such threats is a betrayal. Especially given how the ANC has treated him with kid gloves.”

Mashaba said that while there were “technical glitches,” the elections were free and fair. “There is no evidence to the contrary,” he said.

He raised the alarm about a possible coalition between the ANC, Zuma’s deputy and the radical Economic Freedom Fighters, warning that “the country’s economy will collapse within six months” if it went ahead.

He said his preference was for the ANC to form a coalition with the DA. “The financial markets will punish us, so I hope the ANC and DA will come to their senses and have sensible discussions,” he said.

Some ANC members are understood to be in favor of a deal with MK and the radical EFF, but a Ramaphosa ally insisted they were in the minority.

“We need to put the country first,” the person said. “Most sensible people in the ANC will agree with that, but there is a flip side of those in the NEC who want to create a situation where they can continue to loot. For them it is not about democracy but about creating an opportunity to loot and avoid prosecution.”

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