June 28, 2024

GNU talks reach deadlock after the ANC rejected the DA's new demands for more portfolios

President Cyril Ramaphosa and DA leader John Steenhuisen are at each other's throats

The Government of National Unity talks are said to have collapsed after the ANC rejected the DA's new proposal, causing frustration for Cyril Ramaphosa.


This comes after a letter by DA's John Steenhuisen's to Ramaphosa was leaked to the media where the DA made more demands. Steenhuisen asked Ramaphosa for two more portfolios from the six the ANC is offering. In the letter, Steenhuisen mentioned that his party has been offered six cabinet portfolios which are the Department of Home Affairs, Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment, Basic Education, Public Works, Trade, Industry and Competition Infrastructure and Communications and Digital Technologies. The party also said they have been offered deputy ministerial positions in Finance, Energy and Electricity, and Small Business Development, with one more position yet to be decided upon.


 Hitting back, Ramaphosa said the DA's demands were impossible. In a letter titled Dear John, Ramaphosa made it clear that the ANC was still negotiating with other parties in case the DA continued making impossible demands. "Following the recent exchange of letters between the DA and the ANC, I indicated to you that I did not believe it was appropriate to negotiate, through correspondence, the important agreement that the parties to the Statement of Intent to Form a Government of National Unity are trying to put together. Matters of national importance such as these are best conducted in face-to-face negotiations, and only when both sides agree that the discussions between them have reached a level of maturity and advance should they be reduced to writing, to live up to the principle of transparency," he said. Ramaphosa said that he informed Steenhuisen that the habit of negotiating through correspondence, as adopted by the DA, can be problematic.  "It can, for example make parties play to the gallery of public opinion through media leakages resulting in the loss of focus on the real substance of the negotiations. I also informed you that we found the letter from your Federal Chairperson offensive, condescending, and inconsistent with the Constitution. Notwithstanding all this, I believed that the parties to the Statement of Intent were close to an agreement and that through it we would usher in a new era in the politics of our country," he said.


Ramaphosa expressed his concern that the DA's recent proposals have compromised the foundation of establishing a Government of National Unity. "In your recent proposals, I believe the DA has jeopardized the foundation of setting up a Government of National Unity by moving the goalposts in your letter of 24 June 2024 to me. I am truly taken aback by how you now want two more portfolios to bring the DA's portfolios to 8. You go on to say that you are certain that assigning two additional portfolios to the DA would satisfy cause 16 of the Statement of Intent. The latest proposals by the DA do not, I am afraid, align with the principles adopted and encapsulated in the Statement of Intent. The way they have been submitted undermines the process we had committed to. We are unable to accede to the DA's latest proposals nor it's continuously changing interpretation of the meaning of the Statement of Intent and moving the goalposts. Following my meeting with you yesterday we have continued our negotiations with other parties that wish to be part of the GNU," he said. Earlier today, ANC secretary-general Fikile Mbalula wrote on X that they were almost done with the GNU discussions. "In the best interest of all South Africans, it will be done as promised," he wrote.

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