DA officially pulls out of unity government with ANC as Gauteng talks collapse


The Democratic Alliance (DA) has officially withdrawn from the government of provincial unity talks in Gauteng, expressing their contentment with assuming the role of the official opposition. The decision comes after weeks of rigorous negotiations with the African National Congress (ANC), which ultimately failed to reach a mutually agreeable resolution.

The DA's Federal Chairperson, Helen Zille, revealed the breakdown of talks during a media briefing on Tuesday evening, stating that the party had declined to take up seats on the ANC's terms. "After robust engagements, and negotiations stretching over weeks, we have declined to take up seats on the African National Congress’ (ANC) terms, and will not form part of the Executive of the Gauteng Government of Provincial Unity (GPU)," the DA declared in a statement.

The crux of the impasse appears to be the ANC's proposed allocation of seats on the provincial executive council. The ANC offered the DA three seats, while retaining seven for themselves, a proposition that the DA deemed "both unfair and unreasonable."

"After a prolonged engagement involving various senior members of parties on both ends, yesterday (2nd of July 2024), we found ourselves unable to accept a counter to our offer," the DA statement reads. "The offer made to the DA was and continues to be one we find both unfair and unreasonable. In the spirit of unity, and in an effort to build a relationship with a foundation of trust, we entered into these critical negotiations."

The DA's stance is rooted in its belief that the proposed arrangement would have relegated them to the role of mere functionaries, lacking any real power or influence. "We will not be functionaries who rubber stamp decisions made by an executive, that evidently, is intent on keeping us on the edge of the fray," the statement asserts.

The DA's decision to walk away from the talks reflects a growing sense of frustration with the ANC's approach to negotiations. "Beyond the problematic nature of an attitude that seemingly does not understand what their significant loss of the vote share in Gauteng entails, an air of refusal to be partners, which ultimately is the goal, dominated conversations," the DA said.

The party further accused the ANC's Gauteng leadership and negotiations team of lacking a genuine commitment to partnership. "Negotiations are meant to be principle-based, as per the Statement of Intent that both the ANC and the DA signed on a national level," the DA stated. "If both parties were negotiating in good faith, the situation might have been different now."

The DA's decision to return to the opposition benches marks a significant setback for the ANC's efforts to forge a government of unity in Gauteng. The province, once considered an ANC stronghold, witnessed a significant shift in the political landscape during the recent elections, with the DA making significant gains. The ANC's failure to secure a majority in the provincial legislature forced them to seek a coalition partner, leading to the now-collapsed negotiations with the DA.

The DA's withdrawal from the talks leaves Gauteng Premier Panyaza Lesufi facing a daunting task: forming a stable government without the support of the DA. Lesufi is expected to announce his provincial executive council on Wednesday evening, a decision that will likely shape the political landscape of the province for the coming years.

The breakdown of the Gauteng unity talks highlights the deep divisions within South African politics and the challenges facing the ANC in maintaining its dominance. The DA's decision to return to the opposition benches signals a renewed commitment to holding the ANC accountable.

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