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PoliticsSouth Africa

South Africa: Zuma's MK party to join opposition alliance

June 17, 2024

Former South African President Jacob Zuma's MK party says it wants to coordinate efforts against the unity government led by the African National Congress (ANC), claiming a May election was fraudulent.

Former South African President Jacob Zuma on June 16, 2024.
Former South African President Jacob Zuma's MK party says it will join an opposition alliance to coordinate resistance against the ANC-led coalition governmentImage: Siphiwe Sibeko/REUTERS

Former South African President Jacob Zuma said on Sunday that his umKhonto weSizwe (MK) party was joining an opposition alliance to coordinate efforts against the coalition government.

The African National Congress (ANC) formed a unity government with the pro-business Democratic Alliance (DA), which had long been South Africa's largest opposition party, after a May election that saw the ANC lose its absolute majority in parliament.

Jacob Zuma governed from 2009 to 2018 as a member of the ANC but formed his own party after he was ousted over corruption allegations.

What do we know about the opposition coalition?

The MK said that it would join a coalition made up of mostly left-wing opposition parties known as the "Progressive Caucus."

The group is currently led by the radical leftist Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), which, with 39 seats, is the fourth largest force in the 400-seat National Assembly.

Zuma's MK Party came third place with 58 seats and 14.6% of the vote.

Jacob Zuma and other MK party officials at press conference under slogan "The People's Mandate" on June 16, 2024.
The MK Party has accused the ANC of stealing the election and criticized it for setting up a coalition with the white-led DAImage: Siphiwe Sibeko/REUTERS

MK party spokesperson Nhlamulo Ndhlela said that while the election had seen "daylight robbery" of votes, parties forming the opposition alliance achieved around 30% of seats in the national assembly.

"[This] puts us in a very strong position to fight on for the total economic liberation of black and African people," he said.

"This united effort is necessary because the 2024 election has also resulted in the consolidation of right-wing and reactionary forces who are opposed to economic freedom, radical economic transformation, racial equality and land repossession," he said, in a statement on behalf of Zuma.

Ndhlela denounced South Africa's coalition government, calling it a "white-led unholy alliance" that "must be crushed before it finds its feet" and accusing the ANC of going to "bed with the racists."

The white-led Democratic Alliance wants to abolish some ANC Black empowerment policies, making it unpopular with poorer and younger South Africans hit hard by the country's high unemployment rates and soaring inequality. 

Besides the ANC and the DA, President Cyril Ramaphosa's unity coalition also includes the Zulu nationalist Inkatha Freedom Party and other smaller groups.

Jacob Zuma's reemergence: The Flip Side

MK claims elections 'rigged', observers say elections were 'free and fair'

Ndhlela claimed that the general election that gave way to an ANC-led coalition government was fraudulent.

"The 2024 elections were rigged" Ndhlela said. "We have instructed our legal team to take any steps possible both inside of South Africa and internationally to ensure that justice is done."

"At the right time we will call on our people to demonstrate their dissatisfaction against all these injustices peacefully, in the streets, in the court and even in parliament until our grievances are addressed," he said.

International observers who monitored the elections held in South Africa on May 29 have determined that they were free and fair.

The Chairperson of the African Union Commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat, on June 7 congratulated both the government and people of South Africa "for the successful conduct of the elections which were judged to have been free, fair and peaceful by both national and international observers, including the African Union Election Observation Mission."

On Friday, the MK Party boycotted the parliamentary sitting in which Ramaphosa was elected for a second term.

sdi/rmt (AFP, Reuters)