South Africa's Coalition: Ramaphosa's Second Term Begins

Cyril Ramaphosa has been sworn in for a challenging second term as South Africa's president, navigating a complex coalition government amid economic and social inequalities.

Published June 20, 2024 - 00:06am

7 minutes read
South Africa
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JOHANNESBURG (AP) -- Cyril Ramaphosa was sworn in for a second term as South Africa's president on Wednesday in a ceremonial event held at the Union Buildings, the seat of government in Pretoria. This marks the first time in the nation's 30-year democratic history that the African National Congress (ANC) will govern without a parliamentary majority, relying instead on a coalition.

Ramaphosa is now set to appoint a Cabinet within this new coalition government after his ANC party lost its parliamentary majority in last month's elections. Lawmakers reelected him as president last Friday with support from the main opposition party and a smaller third party, forming a coalition to govern Africa's most industrialized economy.

The swearing-in was attended by current and former African heads of state and diplomats including King Mswati III of Eswatini, Nigerian President Bola Tinubu, Zimbabwe President Emerson Mnangagwa, and former Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga. The event was marked by a 21-gun salute and a flypast by the South African Air Force. Cultural performances by local musicians and dancers entertained thousands of citizens who attended the swearing-in.

While taking his oath of office, administered by Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, Ramaphosa pledged to uphold the constitution and acknowledged the voters' directive to work together. “The voters of South Africa did not give any single party the full mandate to govern our country alone. They have directed us to work together to address their plight and realize their aspirations,” he said.

Ramaphosa recognized the challenges ahead, noting that South African society remains deeply unequal and highly polarized, a situation that could easily lead to instability. He pointed out the persisting divides between black and white, men and women, urban and rural areas, as well as the wealthy and the poor.

In addressing the nation's critical issues, he promised to create new work opportunities and improve basic services like housing, healthcare, and clean water to tackle crippling unemployment. However, the task at hand is daunting, given the coalition government includes ideologically opposed parties with divergent views on many issues, such as land redistribution policies and solutions to the electricity crisis.

The coalition comprises major players such as the Democratic Alliance and the Inkatha Freedom Party, among others. However, some significant parties, including the uMkhonto weSizwe Party led by former president Jacob Zuma and the leftist Economic Freedom Fighters, have refused to join.

In the coming days, the formation of the new Cabinet will be announced officially, establishing the framework for the government of national unity. This new political landscape will test the ability of the ANC and its coalition partners to govern effectively and address the nation's pressing challenges.

JOHANNESBURG (AP) -- Cyril Ramaphosa was sworn in for a second term as South Africa's president on Wednesday in a ceremonial event held at the Union Buildings, the seat of government in Pretoria. This marks the first time in the nation's 30-year democratic history that the African National Congress (ANC) will govern without a parliamentary majority, relying instead on a coalition.

Ramaphosa is now set to appoint a Cabinet within this new coalition government after his ANC party lost its parliamentary majority in last month's elections. Lawmakers reelected him as president last Friday with support from the main opposition party and a smaller third party, forming a coalition to govern Africa's most industrialized economy.

The swearing-in was attended by current and former African heads of state and diplomats including King Mswati III of Eswatini, Nigerian President Bola Tinubu, Zimbabwe President Emerson Mnangagwa, and former Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga. The event was marked by a 21-gun salute and a flypast by the South African Air Force. Cultural performances by local musicians and dancers entertained thousands of citizens who attended the swearing-in.

While taking his oath of office, administered by Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, Ramaphosa pledged to uphold the constitution and acknowledged the voters' directive to work together. “The voters of South Africa did not give any single party the full mandate to govern our country alone. They have directed us to work together to address their plight and realize their aspirations,” he said.

Ramaphosa recognized the challenges ahead, noting that South African society remains deeply unequal and highly polarized, a situation that could easily lead to instability. He pointed out the persisting divides between black and white, men and women, urban and rural areas, as well as the wealthy and the poor.

In addressing the nation's critical issues, he promised to create new work opportunities and improve basic services like housing, healthcare, and clean water to tackle crippling unemployment. However, the task at hand is daunting, given the coalition government includes ideologically opposed parties with divergent views on many issues, such as land redistribution policies and solutions to the electricity crisis.

The coalition comprises major players such as the Democratic Alliance and the Inkatha Freedom Party, among others. However, some significant parties, including the uMkhonto weSizwe Party led by former president Jacob Zuma and the leftist Economic Freedom Fighters, have refused to join.

In the coming days, the formation of the new Cabinet will be announced officially, establishing the framework for the government of national unity. This new political landscape will test the ability of the ANC and its coalition partners to govern effectively and address the nation's pressing challenges.

South Africa's economy has been grappling with several systemic issues that the incoming administration will have to address promptly. Key among these challenges is the electricity crisis, as the country has experienced frequent blackouts and load-shedding in recent years. Eskom, the national power utility, has struggled to meet demand, affecting businesses and everyday life. The coalition government will need to find common ground on energy policy to stabilize and revitalize this crucial sector.

Another significant concern is public safety and crime rates. South Africa has one of the highest crime rates in the world, and reducing violence is a priority for the coalition government. Ramaphosa has promised to bolster the police force and introduce reforms aimed at improving public security. This would necessitate collaboration between ideologically diverse coalition partners to create effective policies and enact legislative changes that ensure citizens' safety.

Education and healthcare systems also require urgent attention. The coalition's ability to arrive at a consensus on these social services will play a pivotal role in determining its effectiveness. Ensuring quality education for all and improving healthcare accessibility are essential for the socio-economic development of the country. Ramaphosa's pledges have raised hopes, but delivering on these promises will require meticulous planning and execution.

Economic inequality and land redistribution remain highly contentious topics in South Africa. Disparities in wealth distribution, traceable back to the apartheid era, continue to mar social cohesion. With land reform being a particularly controversial issue, it will be challenging for the coalition government to formulate a policy that satisfies all parties and addresses historical injustices without destabilizing the economy.

Additionally, the international community is closely watching Ramaphosa's second term, anticipating how his leadership will shape South Africa's foreign policy. Given the participation of multiple political factions in the government, South Africa's stance on global issues, diplomatic relations, and trade policies might undergo significant shifts. Aligning the coalition's internal consensus with the nation's foreign policy objectives will be another complex task for Ramaphosa's administration.

The challenges ahead for Ramaphosa and his coalition are immense. Nonetheless, this moment represents a critical juncture for South Africa, a time when collaborative governance could potentially pave the way for substantial progress. As the nation stands on the cusp of a new political chapter, the world watches with bated breath, hopeful that the spirit of cooperation can overcome the barriers of division.

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