South Africa’s new coalition government unveiled

 South Africa’s President, Cyril Ramaphosa, has un­veiled a new coalition gov­ernment after his ruling African National Congress (ANC) party lost its parliamentary majority in May’s elections.

He said “the government of national unity… is unprecedented in the history of our democracy”.

The ANC will have 20 out of 32 cabinet posts, while the pro-market Democratic Alli­ance (DA) – until now the main opposition party – will hold six. Six other portfolios are shared amongst smaller parties.

These appointments followed weeks of tense negotiations that threatened to scupper the agreement – at one point Mr Ramaphosa had accused the DA of trying to create a “parallel government” in breach of the constitution.

The shrinking of ANC support in the elections reflected public frustration over its poor record on delivering basic services and tackling unemployment, poverty and corruption.

The ANC, led by Nelson Mandela, came to power in 1994, ending decades of white-minori­ty rule in South Africa.

Some of its activists have criticised it for sharing power with the DA, which some see as representing white interests.

The coalition government was welcomed by the business com­munity who said it would ensure economic stability, in contrast to a potential deal with two radical parties which have split off from the ANC.

In the new cabinet, the ANC will keep key ministries such as defence, finance, and also for­eign affairs – where it has been vocal in its support of the Pales­tinians and intensely critical of Israeli actions in Gaza. Outgoing Foreign Minister, Naledi Pandor, has been replaced by Ronald Lamola, who was previously Justice Minister.

The DA’s portfolios include home affairs – which controls immigration, as well as public works – which has been at the centre of a series of corruption scandals. The party also takes over basic education, but not higher education. Party leader, John Steenhuisen, will lead the ministry of agriculture – a sector dominated by white farmers and corporations. —BBC

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