South Africas ANC rejects demand for Ramaphosa to step down for coalition talks

South Africa’s ANC rejects demand for Ramaphosa to step down for coalition talks

South Africa Election

South Africa’s African National Congress will not consider any demands from possible coalition partners that President Cyril Ramaphosa step down, a top official said on Sunday, as the party attempted to present a united front after a stinging election result ended its 30-year majority.

As South Africa heads for a series of complex talks to form a national coalition government for the first time and establish stability, ANC secretary-general Fikile Mbalula said Mr Ramaphosa will remain as party leader and that calls for him to resign for talks to go ahead is “a no-go area.”

“President Ramaphosa is the president of the ANC,” Mr Mbalula said in the ANC leadership’s first public comments since the landmark election results. “And if you come to us with that demand that Ramaphosa is going to step down as the president, that is not going to happen.”

Mr Mbalula said the ANC is open to talks with every other political party in an effort to form a government, but “no political party will dictate terms to us, the ANC. They will not … You come to us with that demand, forget (it).”

He conceded that the ANC, which has dominated South African politics since the end of apartheid in 1994, “suffered heavily” in the election but said it was “not booted out”.

The ANC received just over 40% of the votes, falling well short of the majority it has held for all of South Africa’s young democracy.

It will still be the biggest party by some way, but it needs to talk with others to form a government and to re-elect Mr Ramaphosa for a second and final term. South Africa’s president is elected by Parliament after national elections.

“The results send a clear message to the ANC,” Mr Mbalula said. “We wish to send a message to the people of South Africa: We have heard them.”

He said the ANC is committed to forming a government that reflects the will of the people and is stable.

The new MK Party of former president Jacob Zuma, which won 14% of the vote in a surprise showing that makes it the third biggest in parliament, has said Mr Ramaphosa must go as leader of the ANC and the country for it to enter any coalition talks.

The ANC has many options for coalition partners among South Africa’s other parties, including one with the main opposition Democratic Alliance, which won 21% of votes.

“We’ll talk to everybody,” Mr Mbalula said. “We are talking to everybody because the election did not give us outright majority.

“Talks about talks are in full swing. We are engaged and we are open to engagement. We need stability in this country.”

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