Zuma Unites With Malema Against DA, ANC
17 June 2024
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South Africa’s uMkhonto we Sizwe (MK) party has announced its decision to join an alliance of smaller opposition parties in parliament to challenge the coalition government led by the African National Congress (ANC) and the Democratic Alliance (DA). This move, aimed at creating a “Progressive Caucus” alongside the Marxist Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) and the centre-left United Democratic Movement, was announced by Nhlamulo Ndhlela, MK’s spokesperson.

The ANC, after three decades of dominance, recently formed a coalition with the DA, resulting in a “government of national unity.” This coalition comes after the ANC’s vote share plummeted from 57.5% in 2019 to 39.7% in the 2024 elections, securing only 159 out of 400 seats in the National Assembly . Christopher Vandome, a senior research fellow at Chatham House, highlights the challenges this new coalition faces: “The ANC is creaking at the seams and wounded by the success of Jacob Zuma’s MK. Alliance with the DA may be tricky to sell to party members” .

The Progressive Caucus, which holds nearly 30% of the seats in the National Assembly, aims to counter what they see as the rise of right-wing forces opposed to economic freedom, radical economic transformation, racial equality, and land repossession. Ndhlela stressed the importance of this united effort and indicated that the MK party plans to raise its allegations of a rigged election in both parliament and the courts, despite the Independent Electoral Commission declaring the election free and fair.

Former President Jacob Zuma, a prominent figure in the MK party, criticized the ANC-DA unity government, calling it “meaningless” and an “unholy alliance” led by white interests. Vandome adds that the internal dynamics of the ANC, a broad church with various factions, will significantly impact coalition negotiations: “The party is not a unitary force… each with separate views on who a preferred coalition partner should be” . This internal friction could either lead to a new environment of negotiation and consensus-building or create serious disruption and dysfunction in South African politics.

The formation of the Progressive Caucus and the entry of MK into parliamentary politics mark a significant shift. Vandome observes, “The rise of MK has allowed ANC top brass to blame their electoral underperformance solely on MK and not on their own governance record,” potentially enabling the ANC to reform and rejuvenate its core principles . However, the success and stability of these new political alignments remain uncertain as South Africa navigates this complex transition.- Agencies