SA parliament to elect new president amid historic shifts in power

South Africa’s Parliament is set to reconvene on Friday to elect the next president, following the national elections on May 29. With the African National Congress (ANC) losing its parliamentary majority for the first time in three decades, President Cyril Ramaphosa seeks re-election amid ongoing negotiations to form a coalition government. The Democratic Alliance (DA) is among the parties considering joining a broad alliance with the ANC. This pivotal session, led by Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, will also see the election of a new speaker and deputy speaker, setting the stage for a potentially transformative period in South African politics.

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By S’thembile Cele

South Africa’s parliament will reconvene on Friday to elect the president, the chief justice announced, as political parties continue talks aimed at forming a new government.

The first sitting of legislators since national elections on May 29 will will also vote in a speaker and deputy speaker, Chief Justice Raymond Zondo said in a statement on Monday. President Cyril Ramaphosa is expected to seek re-election at the session.

“The Secretary to Parliament has received formal correspondence in this regard and will henceforth make the necessary arrangements for the first sitting of the National Assembly to take place in accordance with the determination made by the chief justice,” he said.

Election posters for the African National Congress (ANC), Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) and the Democratic Alliance (DA), in the Soweto district of Johannesburg, South Africa.

The African National Congress, led by Ramaphosa, last month lost its parliamentary majority for the first time since it came to power three decades ago. It’s invited opposition parties to join a broad alliance — known as a government of national unity — to form the next administration. 

Among the parties that have expressed an interest in joining the new government is the centrist Democratic Alliance. The party’s federal council, its top decision-making body, met Monday to discuss its plans to join the government after holding talks with the ANC at the weekend.

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“The federal council reaffirmed the mandate of the negotiating team to continue to represent the DA in multiparty negotiations and will resume the meeting tomorrow to continue the critical discussions aimed at advancing the interests of SA,” DA spokesman Solly Malatsi said in a statement. “We will communicate on the final outcome of the meeting in due course.”

Under South Africa’s constitution, parliament must convene no more than 14 days after the declaration of election results. If the National Assembly fails to agree on a new president, the chief justice can order lawmakers to adjourn for no more than seven days and then resume voting. In the event that they still can’t choose a leader within 90 days of reconvening, fresh elections must be held.

In addition to the National Assembly, the first sitting of the National Council of Provinces — the upper house of parliament — has been scheduled for June 15, the chief justice said. After the swearing-in of members of the chamber, Zondo will preside over the election of a chairperson, he said.

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