South African foes unite in uneasy coalition

South Africa

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa.

Photo credit: Reuters

For the first time since Nelson Mandela negotiated an end to white minority rule, former sworn enemies are coming together in South Africa under a pledge to overcome ideological differences for the good of the nation.

President Cyril Ramaphosa has said the seismic political shift is a response to voters' demands for solutions to deepening woes - from sky-high unemployment and economic torpor to corruption and failing infrastructure.

But the prospect of the African National Congress - the liberation movement that freed the country from apartheid - governing alongside the white-led Democratic Alliance (DA), does not sit well with many Black South Africans.

"The ANC is siding with the enemy of progress," said 25-year-old ANC voter Nathi Mboniswa, who worried his party risked compromising its values in a partnership with the DA.

In a disastrous showing in elections last month, angry voters dismantled the ANC's 30-year-old majority. With little choice but to share power, Ramaphosa announced he would form a government of national unity open to parties across South Africa's diverse political landscape.

But the electoral maths dictated the ANC would need to bring in at least one of its biggest rivals - the business-friendly DA, the radical left Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) or populist uMkhonto we Sizwe.

The latter two refused to participate in a government that included the DA.
Following Ramaphosa's re-election by lawmakers on Friday, EFF leader Julius Malema used his allotted time for congratulations to instead blast the tie-up with the DA.

"History will judge you and judge you harshly," he said. "This is not a government of national unity. This is a grand coalition between the ANC and white monopoly capital."
The DA, which wants to abolish some ANC Black empowerment policies, rejects any accusations it represents the country's wealthy whites, saying its economic reforms would benefit all South Africans.

After three decades of working to break the ANC's unchallenged grip on power, the DA - South Africa's second-largest party - emerged from the coalition talks in a triumphant mood.