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ANC may face land-reform pressure after SA vote loss

South Africa’s ruling party may face pressure to implement policies including seizing land without compensation, as it weighs the loss of control of dozens of councils across the country.

Read: Local government will never be the same again

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In last week’s municipal elections, the African National Congress’s share of the national vote fell below 50% for the first time since it came to power a quarter century ago. The party is now faced with the option of either going into opposition, or forming coalition governments with the populist Economic Freedom Fighters — currently the only major opposition party that hasn’t ruled out working with the ANC.

In return for doing a deal with the ANC, the EFF has listed demands including that the government create a state bank, nationalise the central bank and amend the constitution to allow the expropriation of land without compensation. The EFF wants the policies adopted within 12 months.

Read: Under-fire Ramaphosa is still ANC’s best bet in SA

While all of those demands are policies adopted by the ANC at its elective conference in 2017, they were championed by a faction of the ANC that opposed President Cyril Ramaphosa’s successful bid to secure leadership of the party and ultimately the country. The president’s detractors, who are loyal to his predecessor Jacob Zuma, have criticized the Ramaphosa administration’s failure to implement any of the policies and may consider fielding a candidate to oppose him at the next elective conference in 2022.

Ramaphosa acknowledged on Monday that the party had done badly in the November 1 municipal election. The ANC will be strategic in its approach to working with other parties, and any decision to enter a coalition would focus on ensuring such arrangements are stable, he said.

Read: ANC gets 46% in local vote, worst result yet

“We are not on our knees,” he told a post-election party rally. “If we have to be in opposition, then we will be in opposition.”

Almost 30% of municipals councils across the country had no outright winner in the election and will require coalition governments. The hung councils include the five urban centers of Johannesburg, Tshwane, Ekurhuleni, eThekwini and Nelson Mandela Bay.

Political parties have about two weeks to complete discussions on forming coalitions.

Read: Industry voices opposition to new turn in land expropriation debate

“If they fail and no credible government is set up, then the law kicks in and then there might have to be another election,” Ramaphosa said.

Read: Parts of the Expropriation Act may be unconstitutional

© 2021 Bloomberg

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