South Africa's ANC has talks with 5 other parties over possible coalition but says it's still early

JOHANNESBURG (AP) — Top officials in South Africa’s African National Congress have had initial talks with representatives of five other parties over a coalition or other agreement to form a government, but no decision has been made and the talks are at an early stage, the ANC said Wednesday.

South Africa faced an election deadlock after the long-ruling ANC lost its 30-year majority in an election last week but no party managed to overtake it. The ANC remained the biggest party.

ANC spokesperson Mahlengi Bhengu-Motsiri told reporters that there had been “exploratory” talks with the main opposition Democratic Alliance, the far-left Economic Freedom Fighters and three other smaller parties. She said the ANC had “repeatedly” reached out to the new MK Party of former President Jacob Zuma for talks, but there had been “no positive response.”

Zuma is a former ANC leader who has turned his back on the party and become fiercely critical of current President Cyril Ramaphosa.

The ANC has framed the discussions with other parties as an attempt to form a government of “national unity” and a formal coalition is not the only option.

It could bring many parties into the agreement and not just those who can reach a majority with their combined share of the vote. The ANC could also still form a minority government and Bhengu-Motsiri said the ANC might even consider taking its place on the opposition benches if that was best for the country.

Africa’s most industrialized economy is in a moment of uncertainty after a stinging election result for the party of Nelson Mandela. It had governed South Africa ever since the end of the apartheid system of white minority rule in 1994.

The ANC says it is open to engaging with any one of the more than 50 parties that contested last week’s election to find a solution. Parliament must sit by June 16 to elect a president — with Ramaphosa seeking a second term — and an agreement of some sort needs to be in place for that to happen.


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