GNU can’t be held to ransom by any single party – Mbalula

Negotiating through leaking demands to media ‘an act of bad faith’

DA Federal Council leader Helen Zille
DA Federal Council leader Helen Zille
Image: Freddy Mavunda

“The government of national unity (GNU) cannot be held to ransom by any single party.”

These are the words of ANC secretary-general Fikile Mbalula who yesterday said the party was concerned that some political parties were making “outlandish and outrageous demands for specific cabinet positions in the media”.

His comments come after a letter from DA federal council chair Helen Zille, in which the party demands 12 cabinet posts and the deputy president position, was circulated widely on social media.

Mbalula said negotiating through leaking demands to the media was “an act of bad faith”.

ANC secretary-general Fikile Mbalula
ANC secretary-general Fikile Mbalula
Image: Thulani Mbele

The DA is among 10 political parties that are part of the government of national unity after the recent general elections.

In the letter to Mbalula, which Sowetan has seen, Zille said the cabinet positions the DA holds should include the post of deputy president, as is standard practice in similar governments around the world.

“We can only agree to give up that post if it is replaced with both a minister in the presidency, who is also designated as the leader of government business and participates fully in the policy development and monitoring responsibilities of the presidency, and a deputy minister of finance, who participates fully in the development of the budget.”

She said directors-general (DGs) in departments reporting to the DA ministers should be selected by panels consisting of the party’s ministers, and submitted to the president for approval.

“The contracts of all current DGs would also need to be reconsidered in light of our concern that incumbents may not be amenable to direction from Democratic Alliance ministers, especially given the ANC’s cadre deployment policy.

“That all tenders in departments reporting to Democratic Alliance ministers issued since the promulgation of the election date be reviewed. It is obviously not possible to effect change in a context where recent decisions by the previous government are rendered irreversible.

“Finally, please be advised that Democratic Alliance participation in governments in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal depend on our participation in government at national level.”

Mbalula said it was only President Cyril Ramaphosa who had the final say on the appointment of the cabinet.

“The people need a government to be established sooner, rather than later,” he said.

“The outcome of the 2024 national and provincial elections made it clear that 30 years into democracy, South Africans want political parties to work together to solve the important challenges facing the country and improve the lives of our people.

“The ANC, as the party that received the largest number of votes, after considering various options towards the formation of government, resolved that the GNU model would best fit the national interest and took the initiative to engage all parties which won parliamentary seats towards the formation of a government of national unity.”

DA director of communications Richard Newton said the letter was "part of negotiations and that as things stand some of the issues had already being addressed".

Ealier on Monday, Ramaphosa said the GNU cannot be preoccupied with jockeying for positions, tussles over appointments, or squabbles within and between parties.

In his weekly newsletter, Ramaphosa said South Africans had made it clear with their votes they wanted elected representatives to put aside “narrow interests”.  

“The success of the GNU will be measured by the extent to which we are prepared to focus not on who will govern, but on how we will govern, together,” said Ramaphosa.

Ramaphosa said the formation of the second GNU was a momentous development in the country’s democracy.

“South Africans are watching. We should not waste our energies on those who stand in the way of our country’s progress or lose momentum over differences that can be resolved.

"We need to demonstrate in both word and deed that our programme is clear, coherent and sustainable, that our collaboration is genuine, and that the interests of the people will always come first. 

“This will be done by pursuing a common programme to eradicate poverty and build a more equal society, to create jobs, and to make government truly work for the people. The GNU statement of intent provides a solid base for genuine cooperation between parties across the political spectrum who have signed up of their own accord,” he said.

Ramaphosa said the parties have agreed on priorities for the incoming administration.

“At the top of the list of priorities is the achievement of rapid, inclusive and sustainable economic growth to create jobs. It will be critical that the GNU stays the course of the structural reform that is under way to improve the business operating environment and establish South Africa as an investment destination of choice. 

“These reforms are necessary to resolve longstanding challenges in key industries and create more jobs and opportunities. We will need to build on the progress that has already been made while accelerating the pace of reform,” said Ramaphosa.

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