ANC Leaders Meet on South Africa Options With Zuma Silent

(Bloomberg) -- The African National Congress’s biggest decision-making body met to deliberate on how it will work with other South African political parties after last month’s elections failed to produce an outright winner, with President Cyril Ramaphosa expected to provide an update on the deliberations later.

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Members of the ANC’s national executive committee gathered east of Johannesburg on Thursday, a day after the party’s smaller national working committee — which oversees the day—to-day running of the party — said that the “best option” is to consider forming a government of national unity.

Such an arrangement “might be different from 1994,” ANC Secretary-General Fikile Mbalula told reporters Thursday, referring to a government of national unity led by former President Nelson Mandela that included the National Party — which ruled during apartheid — and the Inkatha Freedom Party. “The devil is in the detail,” he said.

The ANC won marginally more than 40% of the vote in the May 29 elections, losing its parliamentary majority for the first time since the end of apartheid and meaning it will have to rely on its main rivals to retain power. They are the business-friendly Democratic Alliance, the leftist Economic Freedom Fighters and possibly former President Jacob Zuma’s uMkhonto weSizwe Party, or MKP.

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Mbalula said the ANC has struggled to engage with the MKP.

“We tried to reach out, we drew blank,” he said, adding that MKP officials the ANC has reached out to said they‘re still waiting for direction from Zuma. Mbalula added that Ramaphosa will likely provide feedback on developments at the NEC meeting after the meeting is concluded.

The MKP said in a statement on X that there had been “engagements” with the ANC and a meeting is expected to take place “soon.” The party will prioritize “the inspirations and aspirations of the South African majority and Blacks in particular,” according to the statement, released under the name of media and communications official Nhlamulo Ndhlela.

“Any coalition has to focus on eradicating the systems that preserve and support the prolonged political subjugation and economic enslavement of our people,” it said.

The ANC faces an uphill battle in getting its rivals to work together. DA leader John Steenhuisen on Tuesday ruled out working with either the EFF or MKP, which both favor nationalizing mines and banks, while Zuma’s party has said it will only work with the ANC if Ramaphosa is replaced — a condition the ANC has said is unacceptable.

ANC members staged a small protest outside the venue where the NEC is meeting, carrying posters urging the party’s leadership not to partner with the DA in a government of national unity.

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--With assistance from Robert Brand.

(Updates with MKP statement from seventh paragraph)

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