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Cyril Ramaphosa attends the oath of office ceremony for his second term as South African President at the Union Buildings in Pretoria, South Africa, 19 June 2024.

REUTERS/ KIM LUDBROOK

South Africa gets a new cabinet

President Cyril Ramaphosa unveiled South Africa’s new cabinet on Sunday, ushering in a new era of coalition governance for the Rainbow Nation. The move comes after the African National Congress lost its majority for the first time in 30 years in the May election, forcing Ramphosa’s party to enter a coalition government with its historic rival, the white-majority Democratic Alliance.

Ramaphosa announced that 32 positions were awarded across seven parties. The ANC retains the majority of seats, with 20, and has kept key ministries, including finance, foreign affairs (crucial in allowing continuity in their pro-Palestinian agenda and ICJ case), trade, and defense. The DA, after demanding 11 slots, was only assigned six, including key ministries like education and infrastructure, and DA leader John Steenhuisen was appointed agriculture minister. The remainder were divided among smaller parties.

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South African president Cyril Ramaphosa casts his vote during the South African elections in Soweto, South Africa May 29, 2024

REUTERS/Oupa Nkosi

Can the ANC make new friends and keep the old (president)?

For the first time in 30 years, South Africa’s African National Congress failed to win a majority in this month’s election, forcing it to turn to opposition parties in hopes of forming a coalition.

The most likely option now seems to be a multiparty coalition, similar to Nelson Mandela’s post-apartheid transitional government. This would allow the ANC to maintain its power by partnering with smaller, less established parties and, notably, the Economic Freedom Fighters, which underperformed in the election. According to Eurasia Group analyst Ziyanda Stuurman, this government is most favorable to the ANC as it would “keep Cyril Ramaphosa as president and provide at least some stability across the political landscape.”

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A worker removes a campaign banner of South African president Cyril Ramaphosa after an African National Congress event ahead of the upcoming elections in Sandton, Johannesburg, South Africa, on May 25, 2024.

REUTERS/James Oatway

South Africa’s landmark election: Will the ANC be out?

South Africans vote this Wednesday in what is possibly the most significant election since the end of apartheid in 1994. Even with the support of older and rural voters, the ruling African National Congress, led by President Cyril Ramaphosa, could lose its majority for the first time. Despite leading South Africa to democracy under Nelson Mandela, the ANC now faces rising discontent due toan unemployment rate of 32%, a poverty rate of 50%, and myriad corruption scandals.
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Coronavirus Politics Daily: Lebanese protests return, Japanese gangs help out, Ramaphosa capitalizes on crisis

A boost for Ramaphosa: Since President Cyril Ramaphosa came to power in South Africa in 2018, factional rivalries inside his own party, the African National Congress (ANC), have undermined the president's attempt to pass much-needed economic reforms. But the unprecedented coronavirus crisis seems to have provided him an opportunity to do just that. Ramaphosa has directed 10 percent of total GDP to a COVID stimulus and rescue package, the largest in South Africa's history, giving him political room to face down powerful unions and freeze public sector wages. And he has approached the World Bank and IMF for crucial financial support. ANC members aligned with former president Jacob Zuma have long rejected any deals with the IMF, in part over fears that the Fund's scrutiny would reveal their party's well-documented corruption. But as further coronavirus-related economic hardship stalks the 50% of South Africa's population who already live in poverty, Ramaphosa's political opponents have stayed largely mum on his plan to increase borrowing from international lenders to weather the crisis. Still, it remains to be seen whether Ramaphosa will seize upon the crisis to try for an even bigger prize: reforming South Africa's bloated and failing state companies.

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