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ANC and DA’s Marriage off to a Rocky Start over inclusion of PA in the GNU

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Simon Nare

THE “government of national unity” between the ANC and the DA got off to a rocky start after conflicting interpretation of the Letter of Intent, signed between the two parties – was blown out in the open over the inclusion of the PA.

As President Cyril Ramaphosa was being inaugurated at the Union Building in Tshwane on Wednesday, tensions between the two dominating parties in the multi-party coalition agreement are simmering behind the scenes with the DA accusing the ANC of exclusion on a decision to include the PA in the GNU.

The chasm emerged when on Tuesday the DA Federal Council Chairman Helen Zille accused ANC’s Secretary-General Fikile Mbalula of misunderstanding the rules of engagement on the coalition agreement in a television interview.

An emboldened Zille said she has written to Mbaulula and pointed out that there has been no consultation with other parties about Gayton MacKenzie’s Patriotic Alliance joining the GNU.

“The ANC can’t bring in people that they feel they can bring in. That’s another thing that Fikile (Mbalula) doesn’t seem to understand because it says that in keeping with the spirit of GNU, that the composition shall be discussed and agreed among the existing parties whenever new parties desire to be part of the GNU,” Zille insisted.

Zille’s outburst has been interpreted to mean that even though it is President Cyril Ramaphosa’s prerogative to appoint the cabinet, he has to do so in consultation with the DA.

Also, Zille has said in the interview that the ministers must be shared accordingly in line with how many seats the parties secured in the National Assembly.

She said her party was expecting to see DA leader John Steenhuisen appointed in the Presidency adding that, that is the reason why, during coalition negotiations, the DA had not pushed for Steenhuisen to become Deputy President – a position she dismissed as ceremonial.

“The ANC must realise that they don’t take all the decisions anymore, they didn’t win the elections. So, he can’t just let anyone come in. He has to make that in consultation with the leaders of the party who have been accepted in the admission of the GNU,” she said.

Mbalula on the other hand was at pains trying to explain how the sufficient consensus clause in the Letter of Intent works, and denied that the DA had powers to veto any decision or dictate the terms on who gets invited into the GNU.

His response to Zille while he was questioned in the same television programme was: “No, consensus and sufficient consensus is a deadlock breaking mechanism where there is an issue on the table and there is no agreement. But it does not in itself hamstrung the cabinet in terms of decision making.

“No, it is incorrect that the cabinet does not function on the basis outside the realm of constitutional prescripts and the question of goodwill in terms of the functioning and smooth functioning and put in together, the GNU it means where there are contradictions issues that need to be resolved will be resolved by sufficient consensus”.

Further, Mbalula seemed to have no grasp of the fact that the Letter of Intent stipulates that a 60% sufficient consensus must be reached on any decisions. And that the ANC and the DA, together make up the 60% which means that no decision can be made without the DA agreeing to it.

PA leader Gayton McKenzie was not taking things lying down when he heard he might not be welcomed by the DA in the GNU and fired a salvo at Zille on his social platform X:

“She (Zille) is wishing to keep cheap labour by illegal foreigners, she is against mass deportation. We will see if she is in charge of the GNU as she is wishing to protect the SA public by embarrassing the ANC so publicly.”

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