South Africa

GNU cabinet taking shape

South Africa’s two biggest political parties are nearing agreement on the number of ministers each party would have in their efforts to form a broad coalition government with other smaller parties, people familiar with the matter said.

The African National Congress, which lost its majority for the first time in last month’s elections, upped its offer to the Democratic Alliance for six ministerial posts as of late Sunday from an initial three, said the people who asked not to be identified as they’re not authorized to comment on the matter.

The centrist Democratic Alliance, which obtained the second-highest number of votes, has reduced the number of posts it’s seeking to six or seven after initially requesting about 10.

However, the people said there are still disagreements over the seniority of the positions to be allocated to the DA.

The make-up of the executive is being closely watched by investors anticipating an acceleration of reforms needed to address the nation’s energy crisis, fix its collapsing ports and railways, and reduce crime and corruption.

South African financial assets have rallied this month on optimism that the new government will continue to implement pro-growth policies.

In a letter sent by the DA to ANC Secretary-General Fikile Mbalula on Sunday, the DA expressed its preferences for portfolios, listing 11 ranging from the minerals and energy, transport, trade and industry to the public works ministries.

The party also proposed that a member of the DA should be appointed deputy president, according to the letter that was confirmed by DA officials.

‘New discussions’

DA spokesman Richard Newton declined to comment on the number of posts the party has been offered, but said negotiations had moved on since the letter had been sent and that the party remains committed to talks on forming a new executive.

“We’re not walking away from anything at this point, and negotiations have continued,” Newton said by phone. “There’s a lot of new discussions that have been taking place.”

ANC spokeswoman Mahlengi Bhengu-Motsiri didn’t answer a call and a text message seeking comment.

In a statement, the party criticized the leaking to the media of political parties’ demands for cabinet positions and suggested that the tactic was hindering the process of appointing the executive.

“Negotiating through leaking demands to the media is an act of bad faith, and this practice will not help the cause of any party,” the ANC said. “The government of national unity cannot be held to ransom by any single party. The people need a government to be established sooner rather than later.”

The party reiterated that the cabinet’s appointment is President Cyril Ramaphosa’s prerogative. An announcement on the appointments is “drawing close,” the party said.


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