Zuma’s Party Says It’s Open to South Africa Coalition Talks

(Bloomberg) -- Former South African President Jacob Zuma’s party signaled it’s open to a coalition deal with like-minded rivals, having won enough support in national elections to help erase the long-held majority of the ruling African National Congress.

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Zuma’s uMkhonto weSizwe Party, which launched five months ago, is emerging as one of South Africa’s biggest political groups after Wednesday’s poll. A projection model by the state research agency, the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, suggests it may obtain 14% of the vote, compared with 42% for the ANC.

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“A coalition can be formed with any party, as long as the ideology is the same,” Sihle Ngubane, secretary-general of the so-called MKP, said in an interview near Johannesburg on Thursday. “Anyone in politics with the idea of supporting the lives of the people, the marginalized, the middle and third-class stratas, we are willing to share power with them.”

If the forecast proves accurate, the result will mark the first time the ANC has failed to secure a parliamentary majority since it came to power at the end of apartheid three decades ago. That will force President Cyril Ramaphosa’s party to search for coalition partners in a bid to retain control.

An alliance with the MKP could be doable as the new party has “no real identity of its own” other than the presence of Zuma, said Siphamandla Zondi, a politics professor at the University of Johannesburg. Ramaphosa was responsible for ousting Zuma as South Africa’s leader in 2018, however, and there remains considerable animosity between the two political heavyweights.

Zuma, 82, formed the MKP after breaking with the ANC in December, having led the country during a nine-year tenure marred by corruption and mismanagement scandals. He was accused by a judicial panel of being at the center of the theft of billions of dollars in taxpayer funds during his presidency and jailed for contempt of court in 2021, yet retains significant support.

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The MKP performed particularly well in the KwaZulu-Natal, Zuma’s home province and key stronghold. With 14% of voting districts tallied there, electoral commission data shows the MKP garnered 43.4%, compared with 20.5% for the governing ANC and 19.4% for the opposition Inkatha Freedom Party.

“Voters are tired of the rhetoric of the ANC, the water shedding, the load shedding, the corruption,” Ngubane said, using the local term for water and power supply outages. “The mismanagement of the economy has been a big issue for our people. These are the areas in which we capitalized as the MKP.”

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--With assistance from Rene Vollgraaff and Antony Sguazzin.

(Updates with analyst comment in fifth paragraph.)

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