South Africa

ANC leaders finalise new South African cabinet

Leaders of the African National Congress met to finalize South Africa’s new cabinet, people familiar with the matter said, as investors anxiously await the appointment of ministers almost a month after elections failed to produce an outright winner.

Two people said the party’s top leaders met on Wednesday morning in Pretoria, asking not to be identified as they are not authorized to speak to the media.

The process of appointing the cabinet is moving slowly, and it’s unclear when the appointment of ministers will be made public, the people said.

ANC spokeswoman Mahlengi Bhengu-Motsiri said she couldn’t confirm the meeting but that an announcement on the cabinet would be made “soon.”

Earlier, she said President Cyril Ramaphosa was expected to unveil the new executive within the next 48 hours.

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

The rand has swung on speculation that talks between the ANC and the centrist Democratic Alliance—the second-biggest party in the coalition—have faltered.

South African politics is currently the rand’s “poison of choice,” said Robert Hoodless, co-head of FX and macro analysis at InTouch Capital Markets Ltd.

“It seems there is still some tension over how the jobs are dished out, and one news report suggested that negotiations ‘threaten to be derailed.’ This tension appears to be behind” the currency’s weakness earlier in the day, he said.

The currency weakened as much as 0.6% on Wednesday morning before erasing those losses to trade little changed at 18.2399 per dollar by 4:28 p.m. in Johannesburg.

News24, a Cape Town-based news website, reported earlier on Wednesday that the ANC was “ramping up” talks with the leftist Economic Freedom Fighters and former President Jacob Zuma’s uMkhonto weSizwe Party, without saying what the objective of those discussions is.

“There is nothing substantive that has developed from the EFF and the MK Party,” Bhengu-Motsiri said by phone. “Really these talks are ongoing, but that is not related to the presidential announcement.”

The ANC announced at the weekend it had agreed to form a so-called government of national unity with nine other parties, including the Democratic Alliance.

The accord excluded the EFF and Zuma’s MK Party, which together garnered almost a quarter of the vote in the elections on May 29.

The addition of any further parties to the government must be subject to the agreement of the founding members, the ANC said on June 22.

The Democratic Alliance is awaiting feedback from the ANC on who will be named to the executive, two of the people said.

One continuing point of contention is the DA’s proposal that cabinet posts be allocated in proportion to the parties’ performance in the election, one of the people said.

The ANC won 40.2% in the election, while the centrist DA obtained 21.8%.


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