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As Ramaphosa takes oath, 4 challenges face South Africa’s new Government

President Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa is expected to be sworn in for a second term on Wednesday, launching an administration unlike any the country has seen since apartheid. race ended in 1994.

For the first time, Mr. Ramaphosa’s party, the African National Congress, or ANC, will have to govern in collaboration with rival political parties because it failed to win an absolute majority in last month’s election – received only 40 percent of the vote.

Mr Ramaphosa offered a new era of unity and cooperation. Not everyone is sold.

The partnership includes the second largest party, the Democratic Alliance, which received 22% of the vote and has long established itself as the ANC’s harshest critic. The three other parties that joined the coalition all won less than 4% of the vote: Inkatha Freedom Party, Patriotic Alliance and GOOD.

A declaration of basic principles – which the parties call a “government of national unity” – signed by the five coalition partners includes their policy priorities. But the document is light on specifics.

How will they jumpstart a stagnant economy? Will they continue the affirmative action policies strongly supported by the ANC but vehemently opposed by the Democratic Alliance? What about the controversial issue of racial disparities in land ownership?

Here are four challenges that South Africa’s new government will face.

There are already signs of tension that could cause the relationship to get into trouble in the future.

Ryan Coetzee, a former Democratic Alliance strategist who was involved in the coalition’s negotiations, wrote in a column on News24, a South African news site, that the ANC, nearing the bitter end of the deal, appeared to oppose the idea that it had to share power with the Democratic Alliance.

“There can be no doubt that its aim is to neutralize the DA,” Mr Coetzee wrote of the ANC. “This is a mistake, because it would turn the government into a permanent battlefield and thus threaten its existence from the start.”

Mr. Ramaphosa will quickly have to form a cabinet, considering ministerial positions for other parties. From there, the hard work begins of setting aside personal and ideological grievances.

“I don’t think this will be an easy marriage,” said Thelela Ngcetane-Vika, a lecturer in international law and public policy at the School of Management at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg.

The reason why South Africans are dissatisfied with the government is the stagnant economy due to high unemployment, growing inequality and deep poverty.

The coalition government’s approach to the economy is likely to be similar to the previous ANC-led government, which adopted largely dovish policies, said Trudi Makhaya, a former economic adviser to Ramaphosa. “I think the storytelling and the rhetoric will change, but the content won’t,” she said.

For example, Mr Ramaphosa has embraced greater private sector involvement in creating jobs and boosting the economy, but this new government’s messaging is likely to emphasize that even more, given the the Democratic Alliance’s free-market stance, Ms. Makhaya said.

The Democratic Alliance has called for the continuation of Operation Vulindlela, an initiative started under Mr. Ramaphosa that aims to strengthen critical infrastructure, some through privatisation. The Democratic Alliance could also push the government to speed up efforts to cut regulations to attract more investment into the country, Ms. Makhaya said.

The topic that promises to cause the greatest friction between the ANC and the Democratic Alliance is how to address persistent racial disparities.

Many within the ANC were firmly opposed to forming a coalition, arguing that the Democratic Alliance denied the existence of racism and wanted to maintain the status quo of a white-dominated economy. Democratic Alliance officials have rejected that characterization.

“We believe that transformation means increasing efficiency, improving infrastructure and running the state,” said Helen Zille, president of the Federal Council of the Democratic Alliance.

During the election campaign, the Democratic Alliance proposed scrapping Black Economic Empowerment, one of the ANC’s signature measures to encourage companies with black ownership and leadership . Because the law is so important to the ANC and its base, Ms. Makhaya said she could foresee the Democratic Alliance pushing for reforms that could allow it to survive but make its supporters accept it. receive more.

One of the most controversial sources of broader racial disparities is the fact that most of the country’s land is still owned by white people. While left-wing politicians – including many in the ANC – have called for the government to take land from white owners without compensating them, a stance contrary to economic philosophy of the Democratic Alliance.

The ANC has largely adopted a centralized land policy, so it is difficult to propose anything drastic. But Ms Makhaya said the ANC could do better with measures already on the books – such as allocating unused state-owned land to individuals – to make some progress on land reform.

The ANC has actively relied on a foreign policy aimed at agitating against a number of Western interests, most notably accused Israel of committing genocide in Gaza at international courts and refuse to condemn Russia invades Ukraine.

The Democratic Alliance tends to lean towards South Africa’s Western allies, such as the United States and the European Union, which, combined, have the largest trading relationship with the country.

“You will see a lot of controversy and not a lot of common ground,” said Lebogang Legodi, a senior lecturer in politics and international relations at the University of Limpopo in South Africa.

However, Mr. Ramaphosa still maintains warm relationships with both Western powers and his allies such as China and Russia. The main tensions with the Democratic Alliance may stem from debates over South Africa’s role in global institutions such as BRICS, a multinational bloc that is competing with the West and more recently. Welcome Iran as one of its new members.


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