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In South Africa, a coalition government, 12 opposition ministries

Photo: Phill Magakoe Agence France-Presse Out of 32 ministries, the African National Congress (ANC) retains the lead with twenty positions including Finance, Energy, Foreign Affairs, Police and Justice.

Claire Doyen – Agence France-Presse in Johannesburg, South Africa

Published yesterday at 6:40 p.m.

  • Africa

The South African opposition has won twelve ministries within the unprecedented coalition government announced Sunday evening by President Cyril Ramaphosa, in the wake of the scathing setback for his party, the ANC, in the last legislative elections .

Out of 32 ministries, the African National Congress (ANC) which has ruled the country since the end of apartheid but lost its absolute majority in Parliament for the first time after the elections at the end of May, retains the lead with twenty positions including Finance, Energy, Foreign Affairs, Police and Justice.

At the end of tough negotiations which lasted several weeks, the leader of the first opposition party the Democratic Alliance (DA), which advocates liberalization of the economy, John Steenhuisen, 48, entered the government as minister of Agriculture.

His party holds six portfolios including Environment, Public Works and Education.

< p>Welcoming the start of a “new chapter for South Africa”, the DA committed in a statement to “good governance” and “zero tolerance for corruption”.

Five small parties also enter the government including the Zulu nationalist Inkhata party, the white identity party FF Plus and the anti-immigrant Patriotic Alliance.

“The establishment of a national unity government in its current form is unprecedented in the history of our democracy,” Mr Ramaphosa said on television. At 71, the head of state was sworn in last week for a second five-year term.

The priority of this new government will be to return “rapid economic growth” to Africa's leading industrial power and “the creation of a fairer society by tackling poverty, inequality and unemployment,” Mr. Ramaphosa stressed.

This government has been composed so that “all parties are able to participate meaningfully in the executive,” he continued.

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“Government Alliance”

The unprecedented formation of the new government is the result of the bitter debacle of the ANC in the legislative elections of May 29.

Sanctioned at the polls in a sluggish economic context, endemic unemployment and growing poverty, the historic party won only 40 % of the vote, retaining only 159 MP seats out of 400.

The DA won 87 seats (21.8%).

The small party of former President Jacob Zuma, created a few months before the election, made a breakthrough by winning 58 seats, ahead of the third political force in the country. The movement led by the sulphurous 82-year-old leader, declared ineligible and still on trial for corruption, refused to enter a coalition led by the ANC.

Just like the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF, radical left, 39 MPs), who vowed to “crush” the “white-led” government alliance, in reference to the DA which is struggling to shed its reputation as a party serving the white minority.

In recent weeks, intense closed-door negotiations have taken place between the ANC and the DA. Earlier this month, after a summit meeting of ANC executives, Mr Ramaphosa called for the formation of a “government of national unity”.

But since then, discussions have been blocked over the number and nature of ministries that would be granted to the opposition, which was demanding around ten, according to information leaked to the local press.

The ANC had castigated “far-fetched and scandalous demands for ministerial posts” and accused the DA, without naming it, of passing information to the media to achieve its ends.

In all, eleven parties have signed an agreement for the formation of a coalition government. Cyril Ramaphosa must present the orientations of his new government at the opening of Parliament on July 18.

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116