A Political Slap

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The African National Congress (ANC) party lost its majority in parliament for the first time in 30 years following a historic election that will likely see South Africa change its political direction for the first time since the end of apartheid in 1994, the Associated Press reported.

The election commission said the ANC won more than 40 percent of the vote, a massive drop from the majority it won in the 1994 elections that brought it to power under Nelson Mandela, and significantly down from the 57 percent of the vote won only in 2019. This delivered for the ANC 159 seats out of 400 in the country’s National Assembly, down from 230 before.

Meanwhile, the opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) came in second with 21.8 percent of the vote, while the newly formed uMkhonto weSizwe (MK) party of former President Jacob Zuma – who has turned against the ANC – won at least 14 percent.

More than 50 parties participated in the polls, with a majority of them only securing a small share of the vote.

Political analysts said the results showed that many voters have been disappointed by the ANC and its policies over its decades-long rule. South Africa continues to struggle with poverty and inequality, including an unemployment rate of 32 percent that disproportionately affects Black people – who make up 80 percent of the population.

Opposition parties hailed the results, with some saying the ANC’s “entitlement of being the sole dominant party” was over.

While the ANC remains the largest party in parliament, it will need to form a coalition with other parties or find partners to be able to remain in government and reelect President Cyril Ramaphosa for a second and final term. Of the result, Ramaphosa said, “Our people have spoken … whether we like it or not,” while indicating he did not intend to quit, Sky News reported. One ANC official called the result “nothing to celebrate”.

Talks have begun to establish a coalition government and must deliver before a two-week deadline. Speculation about which parties will make up the next coalition is rife, leaving investors in particular in a state of limbo, Bloomberg reported.

The DA said it is open to discussion with the ANC, while MK claimed it would agree to a coalition if Ramaphosa is removed as ANC leader and president.

Analysts said an ANC-DA coalition would be more welcome to foreign investors because of the DA’s pro-business stance, including loosening labor laws and ending racial quota systems for employers, according to Reuters.

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