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Zuma’s party to join opposition after failing to block election of South African president

The faction of the country’s former leader says it will coordinate resistance to the “meaningless” national unity government

Former South African President Jacob Zuma’s uMkhonto weSizwe (MK) party announced on Sunday that it will join the opposition alliance in parliament after failing to obtain a decree from the country’s highest court for a rerun of last month’s election.

Zuma stated in a speech read on his behalf by MK spokesperson Nhlamulo Ndhlela that the party would coordinate opposition to the governing coalition led by the long-ruling African National Congress (ANC).

The MK had filed a legal challenge, seeking to block the new National Assembly from holding its first session last Friday to elect the country’s president. The left-wing group formed late last year won 15% in the May 29 vote, giving it 58 assembly seats. It claimed that the election was rigged, and demanded that the Constitutional Court annul the results. The court subsequently ruled that the complaint was without merit.

The party’s lawmakers boycotted Friday’s parliamentary session, where Cyril Ramaphosa was reelected for a second term as South African president after his ANC struck a late coalition agreement with long-time rival the Democratic Alliance (DA) and other smaller parties.

The ANC, which has been in power for three decades since the country ended Apartheid, lost its parliamentary majority in the election. It obtained 40.2% of the vote, securing 159 seats in the 400-seat assembly, down from 230 in the previous election. The center-right DA won 22% of the vote and received 87 seats.

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Several smaller parties have also joined the ANC-led national unity government. The ANC stated that Zuma’s MK refused to engage in negotiations.

On Sunday, Zuma denounced the unity government as “meaningless” and a “white-led unholy alliance.”

He said the MK would join the “Progressive Caucus,” an alliance that holds close to 30% of the seats in the National Assembly and includes the radical Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) and the center-left United Democratic Movement.

“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,” spokesperson Ndhlela said on behalf of Zuma.

June 17, 2024 at 10:23PM

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