A group of South African opposition parties that aims to end the ruling African National Congress’ three-decade hold on power agreed Thursday to form a coalition government should they collectively win a majority in next year’s Parliamentary elections.
The seven signatory parties to the so-called Multi-Party Charter for South Africa also agreed that they wouldn’t enter into any “working arrangement or co-governing agreements” with the ANC or the populist Economic Freedom Fighters at the national or provincial government level following the elections.
“Our mission is to unseat the ANC, keep out the EFF, and usher in a multiparty government following the 2024 national and provincial elections,” the group, which includes the official opposition Democratic Alliance, said in a joint statement following two days of talks.
The parties will contest the elections as individual entities and representation in a post-election coalition government would be “approximately proportional” to electoral support. The leader of the largest party would not automatically become president, though it would be entitled to the position of leader of government business in Parliament, according to the agreement.
“We have collectively agreed on a shared vision, principles for a new government, and a minimum program of action to address the urgent problems that present an existential risk to our country’s future,” DA leader John Steenhuisen said in emailed comments following the talks. “All of these crises can only be resolved if we remove the ANC from government.”
The ANC has governed Africa’s most industrialized economy since apartheid rule ended in 1994, yet several opinion polls have shown it risks losing its majority — a backlash against a failure to tackle rampant unemployment and poverty and address an energy crisis that’s seen power rationed for up to 12 hours a day.
The ANC won 57.5% support in the last national election in 2019, while the DA got 20.8% and the EFF 10.8%. The main opposition party controls the Western Cape, while the ANC runs the other eight provinces.
The other parties to Thursday’s agreement are the Inkatha Freedom Party, the Freedom Front Plus, ActionSA, the United Independent Movement, the Spectrum National Party and the Independent South African National Civic Organisation.