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South Africa’s Parliament to open on July 18 – President



South Africa's Cyril Ramaphosa, back centre, at his inauguration at the Union Buildings in Pretoria, South Africa, Wednesday, June 19, 2024.

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has announced that the country’s Parliament will convene for its next term on July 18.

This comes as he continues to negotiate with other parties to form a Cabinet, a process that has been ongoing for two weeks.

The talks, aimed at sealing a multi-party government and appointing a Cabinet, have been marked by disagreements between Ramaphosa’s African National Congress (ANC) and the Democratic Alliance (DA), the second-largest party.

The two parties have been at odds over the division of ministerial positions and portfolios.

Correspondence between the two parties has been leaked, revealing tensions. In one letter, Ramaphosa accused the DA of “moving the goalposts” by increasing its demand from six Cabinet positions to eight, thereby jeopardizing the coalition agreement.

The DA, on the other hand, claims the ANC reneged on a promise to allow it to take control of the crucial Department of Trade and Industry.

Despite these challenges, Ramaphosa and DA leader John Steenhuisen have held face-to-face meetings in recent days.

The issues highlight the complexity of a coalition government bringing together two former political foes with starkly different ideologies.

The ANC, which lost its dominance in the May 29 election, has been forced to share power for the first time. It won 40% of the vote, while the DA secured 21%. Eight smaller parties have also joined the coalition, dubbed a government of national unity. The success of this coalition relies heavily on the ANC and DA finding common ground.

South African media reports suggest the DA may be on the verge of walking away from the power-sharing agreement, but ANC Secretary-General Fikile Mbalula has dispelled this, stating that the parties are “almost done” with the final agreement.

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The delay in announcing a Cabinet and a new government has eroded some of the optimism that followed the ANC and DA’s preliminary agreement to work together on June 14. That deal allowed Ramaphosa to be reelected as president for a second term with cross-party support.

Both parties had hailed the coalition as a new era of political unity that would help address South Africa’s socioeconomic problems, including high rates of inequality and unemployment.

However, the delay in forming a government has raised concerns about the country’s ability to address these pressing issues.

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