Mandy Wiener4 June 2024 | 4:24

MANDY WIENER: South Africa is alive with possibility!

What is a ‘coalition’? How are things likely to play out over the next few days, as a new era dawns on our maturing democracy.

MANDY WIENER: South Africa is alive with possibility!

South African flag / Pixabay: DavidRockDesign 6314215 1280

On Sunday night, the IEC announced the results of the national elections. This now means that we know, officially, how many seats each party has. For the first time ever, the ANC does not have an outright majority. Similarly, in some provinces, there is no outright majority. This means it requires parties to form coalitions to govern. Or as my 10-year-old says, they have to ‘partner up’. 

Representatives and negotiating teams from respective parties are meeting with each other this week. The clock is ticking. According to the Constitution, the first sitting of the National Assembly must take place 14 days after the results are declared. This will be held at the Cape Town International Convention Centre (CTICC). There are several potential scenarios that could emerge from the negotiations. 

Investors, economists and citizens like you and me are watching developments closely. There is plenty of anxiety and fear about what could happen. But there is also massive opportunity and potential. This is unprecedented in South Africa. Politicians will have to be humbled into working together and compromising. It is exciting and scary. South Africa is truly alive with possibility. 

There are many, many scenarios that could emerge with multiple permutations. Very simplistically, parties would require more than 200 of the 400 seats in the National Assembly to vote for a President. But a 201 coalition is unstable. Ideally, they would want well more than 201 so that they are not reliant on a flaky, tiny party.

It is very possible that deals could be done that have an impact on provincial and national level. Provinces like KZN or Gauteng could be used as bargaining chips at the national level. A premiership in exchange for support at the national level for example. 

Here is a breakdown of some of the more likely scenarios that could play out. 


Come one, come all. Cyril Ramaphosa will remain President, but all the parties represented in Parliament will be invited to join the executive. This way the ANC won’t have to choose between going into coalition solely with the MK and EFF and PA or the DA and IFP. According to the Sunday Times, the ANC will tell potential partners that they would have to agree on the passing of the budget, security, protecting the Constitution and the judiciary. The deal would open the way for opposition leaders to be elected as speaker of the National Assembly. It also means that Ramaphosa could appoint a deputy president who is not a leader of the ANC. Another party could also occupy the position of Finance Minister. This is Chasing the Sun, rainbows and unicorns and kumbaya. A GNU will be unwieldy and require some deft footwork. 


The ANC goes into coalition with former President Jacob Zuma’s MK party or Julius Malema’s EFF. This scenario requires compromises from the ANC. Initially, the EFF insisted Floyd Shivambu be given the position of Finance Minister. MK wants Ramaphosa to be removed as President if it goes into coalition and that would empower Deputy President Paul Mashatile. Economists and investors warn that such a scenario would tank the markets and damage the rand. The DA calls this the ‘Doomsday’ scenario because it would mean a reversal of reforms and the introduction of extremist right-wing policies. This scenario may also require the Patriotic Alliance or IFP nationally and provincially. But if the IFP helps the ANC in KZN, it may damage its chances of a coalition with the DA at the national level. 


The two biggest parties in the country, the ANC and the Democratic Alliance, go into coalition together and govern. Those in favour suggest the two parties have shared constitutional values and a commitment to reform and clean government. The risk for the DA is that this scenario takes it out of opposition and undermines its ability to criticize the ANC. The risk for the ANC is that the DA will attack it from inside the government, and this will ultimately lead to the demise of the party. Some suggest that the ANC would prefer the DA ‘inside’ rather than ‘outside’. This scenario could also include the UDM or IFP as they share the constitutional values of both the ANC and DA. 


The ANC does a deal with the DA and the IFP, but these parties stay ‘outside’ of government. The ANC retains control of the executive and the DA/IFP take on positions of oversight in Parliament including Speaker and chairpersons of portfolio committees. Helen Zille calls this the ‘super opposition scenario’. News24 says it ‘understands there is a strong view by senior ANC leaders that a confidence-and-supply agreement – which would involve a formal arrangement through which the ANC forms a minority government, and opposition partners vote with it on crucial decisions such as confidence motions and budgets. However, a drawback to this approach would be that the party would have to lobby parties to support it on other legislation – with the DA and the IFP, which would take effect at national, provincial and even municipal levels across the country.


Let’s just hope for the best. A President will be elected at the first sitting of Parliament but there will be no agreement. A bunch of candidates will be fielded and whoever gets the most votes will lead. There doesn’t have to be 50% or more to elect a President – just whoever gets the most votes. If this happens, it will mean an enormously unstable government. Laws won’t get passed and there will be votes of no confidence forever and ever, amen. 


The MK party and some other fringe parties want an election rerun because they feel that they actually won more votes than they did. That ain’t going to happen. The IEC declared the elections free and fair. But if no President is elected in thirty days, this could theoretically play out.

There are other hypothetical scenarios too. It is now up to our elected political leaders to negotiate on our behalf and in the interests of the country. This requires political maturity. Anything could happen.