South Africa Coalition Talks Hit Stalemate As DA Demands For Steenhuisen To Be Deputy President

South Africa Coalition Talks Hit Stalemate As DA Demands For Steenhuisen To Be Deputy President

As President Cyril Ramaphosa prepares to unveil a new Cabinet, the Democratic Alliance (DA) is pushing for significant representation, demanding at least 10 of its MPs be appointed to key economic portfolios and naming party leader John Steenhuisen as deputy president in the government of national unity (GNU).

Initially expected to announce his Cabinet on Sunday following his inauguration at the Union Buildings in Pretoria last week, Ramaphosa’s plans have been delayed due to the DA’s demands. Negotiations between the African National Congress (ANC) and the DA have stalled, with the ANC offering only three Cabinet posts to the DA, while the latter insists on at least 10 out of the 30 available positions.

It was reported that the DA’s negotiating team adopted a hardline stance, and on Saturday, shifted from their previous position that Paul Mashatile would remain deputy president, insisting instead that Steenhuisen be appointed to the role.

“The ANC told us they were entitled to the positions of president and speaker because they are the largest minority party in the GNU,” a DA insider said. “By that same logic, the DA must get the position of deputy president for our leader, because we are the second-largest party. This is the norm in coalition governments the world over.”

However, the ANC has deemed the DA’s demands unacceptable. According to the Sunday Times, a top ANC leader noted, “the Cabinet pie was getting smaller with more parties in parliament, such as the UDM, Patriotic Alliance, the PAC, Rise Mzansi, and the FF+ having joined the GNU, after some of them initially snubbed it.”

Facing the deadlock, the DA considered withdrawing from the GNU but decided to keep communication lines open, with negotiations expected to continue on Sunday. The DA aims to manage several portfolios, including:  Communication and digital technology, Trade and industry, Transport, Public service and administration, Water and sanitation, Local government, Health.

Additionally, the DA seeks the deputy minister positions for finance and health.

Last week, former DA leader Tony Leon acknowledged the potential for the ANC and other parties in the GNU to unite against the DA on certain issues. In the multiparty government, each party will push for its policies but will need to compromise to function effectively.

“Matters will change issue by issue, decision by decision, legislation by legislation. But, once again if you go to clause 19 [sufficient consensus in the GNU], if there is a disagreement then the parties have to discuss it. There is even a provision for a party council of the parties making up the GNU. If they can’t agree, or they can’t reach a decision or consensus, then the deadlock gets broken by the parties that constitute 60% of the GNU. You can actually have a dozen other parties, but you are not going to change the basic arithmetic,” Leon explained.

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